Houston Seniors Overcome Fear Of New Technology

“My 15-year-old granddaughter can take this thing and do whatever it is, take my picture and do everything. I don’t know how to do that.”

Bob Harris, who is 81 and lives at The Buckingham retirement home in west Houston, says his son gave him a cell phone about two years ago. But he hasn’t used it until today.

“She showed me, but of course that lasts 15, 20 minutes and then you forget it, because it’s too much involved here.”

He signed up for the workshop offered by Senior TechRally to finally learn how to use his cell phone.

Senior TechRally is an AT&T sponsored effort to educate seniors on the use of mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets. Senior TechRally members and AT&T staff made a stop in Houston at The Buckingham as part of their nationwide Reconnect Tour.

Tina Hurley is a manager for the tour.

“They walk in here so many of them saying, 'I’m dumb. I don’t know what I’m doing,' and the very first thing that we say to them is, 'no, you’re not dumb. You’re scared.' There’s a really big difference between you thinking you’re dumb or you’re afraid. So once we let them know that they’re not dumb at all and they’re just a little fearful of what’s put in front of them, the minute we turn it on and they start exploring, it’s amazing how their fear completely dissipates.”

After he learned how to send text messages from his phone, Harris sent a message to his son.

“I just said, ‘Hi Greg. Love, Dad.’ So he sent the message back already and said, you know, 'congratulations.'”

While Harris knows now how to send text messages and pictures from his cell phone, that doesn’t mean he will be using it much. He and other retirement home residents just use the house phone to connect with family or friends.

As one Buckingham resident, 86-year-old Martha Ann Burrows, put it:

“Well, I think if I have learned how to do the keyboard and the texting and all, I think I’ll use that. I still would like to call and hear their voices.”

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