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July 28, 2014

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Program proves you’re never too old to learn

Workshop teaches seniors how to use smartphones, Internet

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Conor Shine

AT&T employees help residents learn to use a smart phone at the Atria Sutton senior living home, 3185 E. Flamingo Road, on Oct. 10, 2012. The workshop was part of the nationwide AT&T Reconnect Tour, which teaches seniors the basics of using a smart phone and the Internet.

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AT&T employees help residents learn to use a smart phone at the Atria Sutton senior living home, 3185 E. Flamingo Road, on Oct. 10, 2012. The workshop was part of the nationwide AT&T Reconnect Tour, which teaches seniors the basics of using a smart phone and the Internet.

A group of residents at a Las Vegas senior living center made a foray into uncharted territory Wednesday morning, exploring a place few of them had ever been before: the Internet.

Provided with touch-screen smartphones to use, the group of seniors at Atria Sutton learned basics of the devices to make calls, browse the Internet and take pictures.

The workshops are being sponsored around the country by AT&T to help seniors get online and get connected.

Philip Jordan, an executive producer with Senior TechRally, which is running the workshops, said the program is meant to show people the power of the Internet and help seniors deal with some of the initial confusion new technology can cause.

“Our goal is to get them to realize how intuitive these devices are,” Jordan said. “We want them to get comfortable pushing buttons and get over some of the fears of technology they may have.”

Jordan said the workshops helped about 2,500 people in 2011 and were on track to educate another 10,000 this year.

The program covers everything from sending text messages to making video calls.

Only one of the seniors at Atria Sutton said they owned a cellphone; most said they’d never been on Google or sent an email.

Jordan said each program was catered to the skill level of the audience, and Wednesday’s session focused mostly on Internet basics.

“It’s about information and connections. The Internet has health information, wellness information, library information, community programming information,” Jordan said. “We can teach these people to use the Internet to educate themselves and challenge themselves.”

Jesus Barraza, AT&T area retail sales manager, said retail stores throughout the country were seeing increased interest from seniors in buying and using smartphones.

Touch screens and advances in software have made using a phone easier, more intuitive and less daunting for those who are uncomfortable with technology. With email and text messaging as common ways to stay in touch, people who don’t know how to use the technology may find themselves left out, Barraza said.

“(Seniors) are realizing that this is the main source of communication with their grandkids and kids,” he said.

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  1. The move is on! What many people don't know is that there is an effort on the part of telcoms to get landlines outlawed. They are working on state legislatures across the country to get the legislation passed.

    Why? They make more money with mobile phones and contracts, and more that is in their interest, not the consumer.

    The more people they get to switch, the easier it is for them to kill landlines and force people into the higher costs.

    How long will it take before we have no choice? Depends on how many people stay alert for state legislative efforts and contact their legislatures.

    Even if there are some arrangements allowed for people who cannot use mobile phones for some reason, I guarantee it will cost more to use the exception, just like with NV Energy and their new smart boxes.

    Why can't we maintain choice? Why are we losing our freedoms to business desires for more profits? This isn't about progress, it is about dictating what people will be allowed to do.

    I am really getting peeved big time at the business world!