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Seniors and their iPads, iPhones: Keeping up in the computer age

March 21, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • New York seniors are learning computer skills from Pace University students.
New York seniors are learning computer skills from Pace University students. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles…)

Have you ever tried to teach your parents anything techie -- anything at all? Then you know how well that went. Ultimately, the task doesn't get done, and then there's the aftermath: You have a raging headache and rising blood pressure from repeatedly screeching "Just do what I'm saying!" and your parents yell at you for yelling at them, while vowing never to touch technology again.

I can attest that it is possible to have Mom or Grandma Google, Skype or navigate a smartphone -- without either of you needing therapy afterward.

My 80-plus-year-old mom is the coolest grandma at the senior center these days. Like David Copperfield, she regularly whips out her iPhone and dazzles her friends with a quick video call to her daughter at work.

"A son or daughter can't teach the 80- or 90-year-old computers," said Jean Coppola, a gerontologist and information technology professor at Pace University in New York. "There's too much baggage there -- emotional baggage. People get very funny -- they don't have the same patience with their mom or their dad or older relatives that they have with a stranger."

Coppola started a program in New York to bridge the generation gap created by the Computer Age. As the Times' Tina Susman wrote, seniors gather amid a crush of canes, walkers and wheelchairs to learn how to easily navigate PCs, iPads and smartphones, with university students as teachers.

It proved so popular that Coppola expanded it, and it has become a model for similar efforts nationwide. She now has more seniors clamoring for the seven-week course, at senior facilities in Manhattan and in Westchester, than she has students to teach them.

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Original source: Seniors and their iPads, iPhones: Keeping up in the computer age

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