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These Tech Programs Help Seniors Connect With The Modern World

October 25, 2017

By Eric Seiverling

Do you have an older member of your family that leaves the room at the mere mention of modern technology like tablets, cell phones, and laptops?

Are you a senior citizen who has all but given up on learning how to start your own Facebook or Skype account?

While these situations may make you feel disconnected from the rest of the world, fear not.

You’re not alone, and recent studies are showing that the stereotype that older adults are averse to learning new technology is being broken everyday.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, four out of 10 seniors now own smart phones, twice as many that was reported in 2013.

And according to the study, in the year 2000, 14% of seniors were Internet users. Today, 67% of adults over the age of 65 reported they go online.

“Older adults are extremely intelligent,” Beth Ison, coordinator of Community College of Allegheny County’s Aging Programs, said. “They’ve lived a full life and made a lot of important decisions in the past. They feel like technology is speeding past them and they have a sense of being left behind. They’re a very strong generation. They want to keep in touch with their grand kids and they want to see the family photos from the beach.”

Want to get on board the technology superhighway? There are numerous programs aimed at helping older adults welcome Google, Facebook, and Twitter into their homes.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute allows adults age 50 and over the chance to return to college without having to worry about grades or tests.

Established in 2005, it is supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation and is one of 118 OLLIs located on college campuses throughout the United States.

Courses at the institute include How To Be Smart With Your iPhone, The Basics of Using Your Android Phone, and Bring Your MacBook to Class.

The institute’s members may also register for an unlimited number of OLLI courses and study groups, attend special lectures, tours, workshops, and seminars – most events are free to members; some may have a nominal fee – and receive an OLLI photo identification card that provides access to University of Pittsburgh services, including libraries and campus shuttles.

For more information, call 412-624-7308.

Utilizing a network of more than 2,000 volunteers and 9,000 non-profit and educator partners, Comcast’s community initiative Internet Essentials begins with the basics of connecting to the Internet, online safety and security, and employment resources. Featured videos in the Learning Center include What is Snapchat?, What is Instagram?, and How to Setup and Use Email. Users can also check the Internet Essentials’ website for free in-person computer classes in their own neighborhoods.

CCAC Aging Programs allow older adults to stay closer to their homes, as more than 400 classes are offered by the academy, at low or no cost to participants, for men and women age 55 and older and adults with disabilities. Programs are based at adult day care facilities, Kane Regional Centers and senior citizen centers throughout Allegheny County.

Courses include Using Craigslist, Digital Camera, Computer Basics, and Bring Your Own Tech Device, and last anywhere from three to six weeks. Ison said the courses allow older adults to master Facebook, improve their online job search, and electronically organize their information, such as address and phone books.

For more information, call 412-237-2723.

Located in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the AARP Foundation allows its members many opportunities to become comfortable with technology.

Members can register for the upcoming Job Search in the Digital Age interactive workshop, and AARP Academy gives members access to in-person events, workshops, webinars, and a learning library.

Learn how to use features of your Apple and Android mobile devices including touchscreen basics, taking photos and videos, connecting to Wi-Fi and downloading apps.

Upcoming topics include Notifications for iPad and iPhone, Searching the Web, Video Chat Basics, and Sharing Photos and Videos Online.

For more information, call 412-271-1580.