Older Adults Get Tutorial on Technology

Older Adults Get Tutorial on Technology

October 24, 2019

Dozens of older adults had a chance recently to take some of the mystery out of using the apps—or computer software applications—on their cell phones, tablets, and laptops.

They brought their questions to our second fall Glenmeadow Learning program, “Get Tech-Savvy: An IT Primer for Older Adults,” where men and women with varying levels of experience received an overview on apps, how you access them, and how much they cost.

Three tech professionals were at their disposal to answer questions—everything from “Where is the App Store on my phone?” to “Now what does it want me to do?” and “What does this mean?”

The roughly 35 participants, who gathered at West Springfield Public Library, learned how to download Uber, for calling a ride (think taxi, as program leader Derek Allard said); Skype, for video calling with friends and family; and they experimented with various games from Words with Friends to Candy Crush.

“This is great information,” one participant said.

Another said of Derek, “He’s a great teacher.”

In addition to Derek, the owner of Tunnel 7, which offers digital design and marketing services, the instructors at the program in mid-October were Ryan Askew, owner of Ryan Askew Web Design & Development, and Patrick Lostaglia, Glenmeadow’s network administrator.

The three kept our audience engaged, animated, and very busy discovering apps and problem-solving usage.

Derek began the program with an hour-long overview about apps, how to find them on a phone or tablet, and how to download them and use them safely.

When downloading an app, he said the safest route is the app store on a person’s particular device; there one will find from 600,000 to two million different apps.

“Chances are, there’s an app for what you want to do,” he said noting there are programs for news, sports, weather, photography, creativity, games, education, communication, and entertainment. There are also what he called “niche apps,” which have a very specific purpose, such as identifying birds or plants.

An avid hiker, Derek said he has an app that allows him to identify the mountain peaks around him when he is on a trail.

Some apps are free, some have a one-time subscription cost, and some allow you to purchase things within the app, such as tokens in a game platform. Derek said app developers make money through the subscriptions and sales; those that are free recoup costs by selling user’s personal information.

“If you’re paying for an app it’s less likely they’re sharing your information,” Derek said. “If it’s free and you can do a gazzilion things, you can be sure they are using your information and creating a profile on you.”

Derek said each app treats user’s information differently, and those treatments are spelled out in the app’s terms of use; he said people don’t need to be paranoid or read all the terms. “But do a search on the app (in Google) to see how they use the information,” he said. “See if you’re comfortable with that. Be smart.”

Derek also recommended that app users create strong passwords, and keep them in a secure location. “Change them occasionally, especially after an app announces a breach,” he added.

Glenmeadow Learning is one of many free programs Glenmeadow offers to members of the wider community. It represents only one facet of the life plan community’s mission to serve seniors across the region and to operate as a socially accountable organization.

The third and final Learning program this fall will be held Tuesday, November 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at Agawam Public Library, 750 Cooper St., Agawam.

“Environmental Responsibility: Taking Steps to Protect Our Planet” will be led by Terra Missildine, who will speak about how her mission to protect the Earth began and why it’s important for everyone to commit to doing so.

The program is free, but space is limited, and reservations are required. To register, contact Jazlyn Wanzo at jwanzo@glenmeadow.org. For more information, or to register online, visit glenmeadow.org/events.

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