Twenty-five years of net for se­niors


‘‘We're giv­ing them con­fi­dence in us­ing these new de­vices, whereas be­fore they were re­luc­tant.’’

The first Se­niorNet Welling­ton teach­ing ex­er­cise was learn­ing to play on­line card games like soli­taire.

It was 1992. Com­put­ers were still a nov­elty, and few owned their own. Ap­ple’s first iPhone was still 15 years away.

A lot has changed since then, but Se­niorNet, a learn­ing group teach­ing older adults new com­puter skills and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy, is still thriv­ing.

The Welling­ton group was the first in New Zealand and has had more than 4600 mem­bers in its life­time.

It marked its 25th an­niver­sary with an event in Welling­ton on Tues­day, rem­i­nisc­ing on the past and think­ing ahead to the fu­ture.

Chair­man Al­lan Chee has been in­volved for five years and says that even in that short amount of time he has seen a lot of change.

‘‘Five years ago I think I wrote the last of­fi­cial man­ual for Se­niorNet, and that was on Win­dows 8,’’ he says.

‘‘I’d just fin­ished that and started get­ting it pub­lished and it was out­dated, and 8.1 came along. By that stage we found other sources on­line that were do­ing up­dated in­struc­tion man­u­als that we could read­ily ac­cess and if we wanted to, down­load and sup­ply.’’

He says the work­shops, cour­ses, groups and prac­tice ses­sions help par­tic­i­pants be­lieve in them­selves.

‘‘The key point is we’re giv­ing them con­fi­dence in us­ing these new de­vices, whereas be­fore they were re­luc­tant, they’re fright­ened that if they touch the wrong but­ton it’s all go­ing to blow up.’’

Deputy chair­man Graeme Munro says se­niors who are con­fi­dent with tech­nol­ogy can com­mu­ni­cate with their fam­i­lies through their smart­phones, surf the in­ter­net and use on­line bank­ing.

He says the tu­tors, who are also se­niors, talk the same lan­guage as their stu­dents.

‘‘If you’re go­ing to a com­puter shop or some­thing like that you might get some­body con­sid­er­ably younger who’s talk­ing a to­tally dif­fer­ent lan­guage, they’re talk­ing in some of that tech speak rather than plain English.’’

Se­niorNet classes also give plenty of one-on-one help so ev­ery­one can go at their own pace.

It’s a re­ally re­ward­ing role, Munro says. ‘‘You get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion.’’

Se­niorNet Welling­ton has around 700 mem­bers and classes in­clude a ‘smart­phone driver’s li­cence’ course and groups fo­cused on tablets, dig­i­tal cam­eras and Gmail.

A vis­i­tors’ in­for­ma­tion ses­sion takes place on Thurs­day, June 29, at Se­niorNet Welling­ton, Anvil House, Wake­field St; 10am-12pm.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion visit welling­ton­se­nior­

Se­niorNet Welling­ton mem­bers learn to play Soli­taire in 1992.

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