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Seniors get tech savvy at Plum event

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By Matt Defusco

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

Chuck Klingensmith, 73, a resident at Longwood at Oakmont, recently got an iPad. After being able to turn it on, he was at a loss for what to do next.

“There really wasn't a good set of instructions,” he said. “After you turned it on and got to the (home screen), it was like ‘Where do I go from here?'”

Klingensmith is one of many senior citizens who gathered Oct. 23 to learn how to use electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Longwood at Oakmont, a senior residence, hosted the event. It was sponsored by Senior TechRally, a division of Mobile Media Enterprises that strives to bridge the gap between seemingly disparate generations, and AT&T.

Field manager Jenny LeBrecht said she doesn't want people to think the event was a way to sell expensive gadgets to senior citizens.

“We're trying to make them feel less apprehensive, less intimidated,” she said. “A lot of (the seniors) really truly want to know what their kids are talking about.”

LeBrecht said there is only so much that a person can learn during the workshops, but she wants to provide the resources to allow senior citizens to more easily access answers to questions.

By directing them to search engines and giving seniors basic knowledge on how a device works, “they're able to understand their kids, their grandkids,” LeBrecht said.

The event had one main speaker, as senior citizens were arranged in semicircles around a technician who guided them through what the speaker discussed.

As the speaker explained what the “home” button did and how to navigate Google Earth, the technicians helped guide them on their own devices that AT&T loaned them for the program.

The program designers recognize that people learn in different ways and at different speeds, LeBrecht said. That is why the tech at each table — which contained no more than nine participants and their instructor — was so important.

Cammy and John Matusz of Plum, both 71, were fascinated as the instructor showed them how things such as Skype work.

“(It) was just like looking through a window,” John Matusz said.

Matt DeFusco is an intern for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at



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