Benjamin Franklin was quoted saying, "He that can have patience can have what he will." Never underestimate the determination of an individual who has patience, purpose, and persistence. On Sunday, May 1st, the AfidenceIT team had the honor of leading the Cyber-Seniors event--an international campaign aimed at connecting the older adults with technology. The campaign is part of the Cyber-Seniors documentary, a heartwarming film that addresses the growing gap between the older adults and technology. The idea originated after two sisters, Macaulee (16) and Kascha Cassaday (18) saw the way technology transformed their grandparent's lives. One of our employees sent us the video, and we felt an instant call for action. Armed with a purpose, we partnered with Cedar Village, a not-for-profit retirement community in Mason, Ohio. We developed a cyber-seniors program that involved donating 15 Chromebooks, leading three events, and organizing cyber buddy partnerships. The cyber buddy partnerships aim to help seniors gain even more confidence with technology through long-term, supportive relationships. The cyber-senior events focus on the following components:
- Computer Training
- Internet Training
- Email Training
- Creating a Facebook
- Accessing an Online Newspaper
- Skype Video Sessions
Internet adoption rates among seniors have changed significantly since 2000. ThePewResearchCenter reports that "14% of seniors used the internet in 2000, while 58% do so today. Not until 2012 did more than half of all adults ages 65 and older report using the internet." In comparison, 96% of individuals ages 18-29 and 93% of individuals ages 30-49 use the Internet today. The Cyber-Seniors program value includes:
- Removing feelings of isolation as a result of digital divide
- Providing new pathways to connect with friends and family
- Improving confidence
- Gaining general benefits that come with life-long learning including improving memory, developing new skills and providing new opportunities to connect with people who share the same interests
Imagine the impact of being able to see your daughter's wedding through Skype or virtually connecting with your son via email each week to share pictures and experiences. During the May 1st Cyber-Seniors event, the value of the program was realized. The Cedar Village residents were excited to participate and open to feedback. They exemplified patience and conviction like we haven't seen in a while. One cyber-senior was 101 years old. She came to class prepared with her Gmail password and was asking questions about spam prevention and file attachments. Lesson 1 was learning the keyboard, and she was ahead of the curve. Her spirit filled the room. Our determination grew stronger than ever for the cause. We came prepared to teach technology, but the lesson about life and kindness is what we learned. All of a sudden, we were more prepared to face our own fears.
The next two events are scheduled on July 10, 2016, and September 25, 2016, from 1:30-3:30 PM. Thank you to everyone who made this experience one we will cherish especially the cyber-seniors, Cedar Village team members, and AfidenceIT employees.