Seniors Are Learning Technology from Younger Generations

There’s something powerful about knowing that it’s never too late to learn something new. It can be as simple as putting yourself out there and welcoming new experiences.

Want an example?

Saffron Cassaday, Director of the Cyber-Seniors Documentary, has inspired a national campaign called Connecting Generations. Her campaign looks to connect young mentors with older adults for technology training. The primary goal of the campaign is to bridge the digital divide and bring generations together.

multi generational
Seniors are learning technology from younger generations.

How do you feel about the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”

I think that statement represents a bad attitude! Sure, as we get older and stuck in our own ways it can be difficult to open ourselves up to new experiences and take on new skills. But pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and committing to learning something new keeps our minds young and active! In fact, it is the best way to combat the negative side effects of old age. It’s so important that people be open to trying new things – and always keep learning!

Why is it important for an aging population to become familiar with all of the new technology in the tech revolution?

In the past 20 years, technology has drastically changed the ways in which we live, work, and communicate. Unfortunately, the oldest part of our population were likely out of the workforce when this change began to happen, so many of them were left in the dust. This difference in communication habits can drive a wedge between generations. By teaching older adults to get online, we can help to bridge the digital divide and bring people together.

Regardless of age, how can technology enhance a person’s quality of life?

Much has been said about the harms of the Internet and how it’s made us antisocial. With the Cyber-Seniors Connecting Generations Campaign, we truly believe that technology is an important tool for enhancing personal relationships and bringing people together – especially for older people who may be socially isolated. Technology gives them a window into the outside world that they may have otherwise missed out on.

Can you name some specific individuals? How have the various aspects of the tech world impacted lives?

1. A 90-year old senior named Ellard Yeo was interested in learning how to use online banking. He was making a monthly trip to the bank to pay off his lines of credit; but as he got older and began developing Parkinson’s, these trips became more difficult to manage, especially in the cold winter months. With the help of his teenage mentor Henri, Ellard learned to take care of his banking online. Henri taught him skills that made him feel confident and protected in his online activities. Thanks to Henri, Ellard now has the option to visit the bank if he feels like having an outing, or simply doing it from home if he does not feel up for the trip.

2. A 77-year old senior named Lydia was eager to get on Facebook and Skype in order to connect with her family. In particular, she wanted to connect with her granddaughter, with whom she had a very close relationship and who was heading to Korea for a year to teach English. Lydia wanted to make sure she could stay up to date on Courtney’s adventures through weekly Skype conversations and by viewing her Facebook photos. Lydia quickly got the hang of these programs and truly enjoyed using the Internet to stay connected with her granddaughter. She also formed a friendship with her teenaged mentor Max and looked forward to his weekly visits. Max would often go above and beyond his duties as computer teacher and would help Lydia with daily chores such as shoveling her driveway and taking out the trash – things her granddaughter would have done if she were still in the country.

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