Teaching the elderly to text

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AT&T worker Gabriela Vasquez gives cellphone tips to L.A. resident Carol Berke. Credit: AT&T

Pretty soon, you might start seeing text messages from grandma. ‘LOL did u see Jay Leno last night?’


AT&T workers held free 20-minute sessions at the Oasis Christian Center in West Los Angeles today to demonstrate basic cellphone features to the elderly. Senior citizens who signed up in advance got schooled on how to send SMS messages, make phone calls, add and edit contacts and manipulate settings.

AT&T spokeswoman Kate Keating says many older cellphone users demonstrate little knowledge of how to use basic device functions. And for the most part, we’re talking flip phones, not Blackberries.

Keating says that even ‘the more tech-savvy elderly people don’t know how to text.’ So, these ongoing programs with Oasis ‘help them learn about new technologies like texting,’ Keating said.

Indeed, the average number of text messages per user has far surpassed the number of minutes spent talking on cellphones. But that adoption is still working its way up from young people, who latched on to the technology unwaveringly over the last decade, to older generations.

Verizon Wireless has held similar training sessions at senior centers. The company sponsored this year’s Senior Olympics, where it provided product demos on-site. The telecom company also boasts four-dozen hearing-aid-compatible cellphones and a line of simple devices with giant buttons.

-- Mark Milian