Patience and Operating Systems

What seniors need to bridge the digital divide

Wire the Wise at the 92nd St. Y this past Sunday

I always walk away learning so much from hosting events with our Wire the Wise community, and this past Sunday was no exception. What’s great about meeting directly with members of your community on a regular basis is that you’re able to observe the consistent wants and needs while also learning new and better ways to improve the work that is being done.

One word that I always hear from seniors at our events is “patience.” When I’m having a conversation with a senior about their experience, or when they are explaining their relationship with learning technology, this word seems to make its way into the conversation every single time. I consider patience to be an organizational value in what we do now and in the future, whether it be the type of young professionals we recruit to volunteer or the way in which we organize and conduct our events and programming.

Wire the Wise at the 92nd St. Y this past Sunday

While meeting with my community regularly provides some repetition of those core wants and needs, such as patience, it also allows me to discover new ideas or new issues that need to be thought through in more detail.

Our event this past Sunday was our first larger event since the new operating system was released for the iPhone. At the beginning of each event, I usually greet seniors as they come in and ask them what they want to learn. I was surprised to hear just how many of our seniors wanted assistance with the new upgrade on their phones. When a tech product is upgraded, it can often take even the savviest person a little bit of time to adjust to new features — for a senior, however, this process can be incredibly challenging and often very frustrating. Imaging investing time in learning a new language only to find out that the words and meanings change every 6 months. For many of our seniors, this is what an upgrade feels like and can often discourage them from moving forward in using technology.

Wire the Wise at the 92nd St. Y this past Sunday

Based on yesterday’s event and the needs of the seniors that attended, I realized that it might be valuable to provide seniors with a lesson after new system upgrade is installed on their phone. If not an entire lesson devoted to the upgrade, it might even be valuable to create a printed cheat sheet that would provide them with important information about the new features and how to use them.

In addition to learning valuable information about our community, meeting with our senior adults and young professionals allows us to easily share new ideas and products. This past weekend, we were happy to share our plan to launch a private tutoring program in November for any senior who is interested in paying for additional technology lessons that go beyond our free monthly meet-ups at the location of their choice. We’ve known for a while by listening to our community that many of our seniors would pay for help outside of these events, and we want to be able to provide that service in an effort to make our community more comfortable and independent with technology. It was exciting to hear all of the positive feedback about the new program and we were happy to see interest in private lessons from many of our seniors (and young professionals, too!).

Wire the Wise at the 92nd St. Y this past Sunday

With a few events behind us this Fall, we have one more on October 30th at the 14th Street Y in the East Village before we dive into more meet-ups in November and the start of our private tutoring service! To follow Wire the Wise on our journey, click here.