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‘‘I’d just finished that and started getting it published and it was outdated, and 8.1 came along.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 wellingtonseniornet.co.nz.
SeniorNet Wellington members learn to play Solitaire in 1992.