Seniors Get A Lesson On Technology

AT&T representative Steve Godbout and AT&T Director of External Affairs Harry Carey joined State Representative Mitch Bolinsky at the Newtown Senior Center, Monday, May 19, in a collaboration to demystify some of today’s newest gadgets.

“Technology can be daunting,” said Mr Carey, prior to the start of the presentation. “We have found that in intimate settings and with their peers, such as this, people feel more comfortable. We can walk people through their questions on everything from apps, to tweeting, to Facebook and LinkedIn,” he said. Many older citizens are unaware that the devices they own are capable of doing so much more than what they currently use them for, he said. Additionally, the transition from a basic cellphone to a smartphone or device can be intimidating.

“This is an outreach program the state does with AT&T,” said Mr Bolinsky, in response to what he hears from his constituents. “Seniors need assurances and support with technology. Together,” he said, “we provide some comfort to the seniors.”

Mr Carey and Mr Godbout elicited information from the approximately one dozen members at the Senior Center, regarding what kinds of devices they own, and what they are looking to do with those devices. “This is about the devices and the familiarity you have with your devices,” Mr Carey told the group.

Increased familiarity with texting, Skyping, Facetime, and Facebook allows more connectivity, he told the seniors. Addressing concerns about switching over to smartphones, the three men assured those present that the devices were actually much simpler to use, and had far more capabilities than basic cellphones. AARP, veterans, and other discounts make smartphones more affordable than many fear, they said.

Esther Nichols, a Senior Center member, said that by discontinuing her landline and going solely with cell service, she saves $40 each month. What many refer to as landlines, Mr Carey clarified, are actually “voice over Internet” connections. “The advantage to a cell service is that it is difficult in a storm for a cell tower to go down, and you can recharge your phone in your car,” he said.

The mobility of having a cellphone also improves safety and accessibility, Mr Carey told the group — so long as the phone is on the person.

While most of those present appeared engaged, Chuck Leety left the program early, disappointed. “I was hoping to get more general information,” Mr Leety said.

The explanation of what “apps” (applications) are, how to get them, and how to use them required more one-on-one interaction, with Mr Bolinsky, Mr Godbout, and Mr Carey ending the session in smaller groups to do so.

“We’re just here to help,” said Mr Bolinsky.  

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