Cyber Seniors class teaches seniors to use modern technology

“I would like to know how to send a picture from my phone,” said Camella Brown when she walked into the Cyber Seniors class at the Parker Center for Senior Adults on Tuesday.

Model Middle School students Barton Sopata (left), Julia Rutland and Mary Roberts help Charles Parker navigate his cell phone.

Brown and other seniors were the first attendees to the new Cyber Seniors program, an initiative spearheaded by Julia Rutland, an eighth grader at Model Middle School.

Each Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Rutland and a group of her friends will be in the Activities Room at the Senior Center, helping seniors with their cell phones, tablets and, if they have them, laptop computers.

Connecting the Generation Gap

“We’re a group of teenagers helping senior adults learn how to use technology, and just connect,” said Rutland. “Teenagers don’t know what it was like before technology. And senior adults don’t know what it’s like with technology. We can learn from each other.”

Rutland, who is a contestant  in Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen Pageant this year, is incorporating the Cyber Seniors project into her platform, “From Bubblegum to Bifocals: Connecting the Generation Gaps.”

But Rutland said she really enjoys helping seniors tap into the limitless technological advances that could make their lives easier, if only they knew how to use them.

“My grandparents would always try and ask me for help on their phones, and I enjoyed helping them,” she said. “I thought this would be fun.”

For the seniors, she said, it’s all about learning the fundamentals.

“They’ll bring their phone or their tablet to the class and we help them learn the basics,” Rutland said.  “We’re here to help them with anything, like, setting up an account for something they need.”

There are settings in phones and other devices, Rutland said, that enlarge the type on phones, which would be helpful for adults with poor eyesight. Also, clearing up old messages, setting up Spam folders in email accounts to clear out massive email folders, and making sure seniors know how to open and close out multiple browser windows are among the things the students will be teaching.

One-on-one time with technology

Mary Roberts teaches Camella Brown how to send a photo from her flip phone.

Rutland’s friends Barton Sopata, Mary Roberts and Duncan Blankenship – all fellow students at Model Middle School – were with her on Tuesday to help teach seniors how to use their smart phones and tablets.

“My grandmother will get really frustrated if she doesn’t know how to do something on her phone,” Sopata explained.  “I think if I got frustrated, I wouldn’t like to keep getting frustrated. I would appreciate the help that we will be giving today.”

Charles Parker was among the seniors at the class and said that a group of teenagers spending quality time teaching seniors about their devices is a wonderful idea.

“I think it’s fantastic because they know how to do it,” Parker said. “I have twin 13-year-old grandsons. Even when they were 8 or 9, they’d come home and get on my computer and would just do anything they could, just like that. They’re on their iPhones and they just think they’re having the biggest time going. And I’m not.”

Parker, who uses his iPhone for his business, said he knows there are many possibilities with the technology, and he can’t wait to learn.

“I’ve got all these beautiful, colorful apps; I mean, I could do anything, if I knew how to do it,” Parker said. “I have so many questions.”

Having a smartphone or tablet isn’t necessary to attend the class, the students said. Camella Brown walked in the Activities Room with her flip phone. Another senior asked questions about her radio. The students are available to help with all technological needs.

As Rutland, Sopata, Roberts and Blankenship gathered round the seniors to begin helping them, Parker said, “I’m just tickled to death that y’all would do something like this. It’s just great. I know they’re a lot of people who need this.”

Cyber Seniors meets each Tuesday at the Parker Center on Kingston Highway from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. For questions, contact the center at 706-234-0383.


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