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Seniors learn to connect with the latest gadgets with relative ease
Del Stokes, a Best Buy mobile manager, talks with Patty Jennings of Flowery Branch about uploading pictures onto her laptop during an Active Generation Technology Training session Thursday at the Mulberry Creek Community Center in Flowery Branch. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Today, they are members of the "active generation," who are all too often regarded as opponents to technology.

Forty years ago, members of the 55 and older demographic were teenagers testing out the first pocket calculators and spending hours in the arcade playing the latest video game, "Pong."

"A lot of people think the senior generations don’t want to embrace technology. Some people think they’re afraid of it," said Jordan Maloy, general manager of the Best Buy on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville.

"They’re not afraid. They just need somebody to take the time to show them what the possibilities are."

To help with that process, the Hall County Parks and Leisure Services department recently partnered with Best Buy to host a free, "Active Generation Technology Tutoring" session at Mulberry Creek Community Center in Flowery Branch for residents ages 55 and older.

"Mostly, people needed help with the quick and simple stuff like saving documents from the internet to their computer or pictures from (their camera’s) memory card to the computer," said Del Stokes, Best Buy of Gainesville mobile manager.

"These are some of the same questions that people in my generation ask, too."

Attendees were able to check out some of the latest entertainment devices — Stokes says there were many questions about the iPad 2 — and they could also find answers to questions about their own media devices.

"I have a computer that’s 12 years old. My question is, do I buy a new tower, or do I buy a laptop," said Lojuana Howard, a Gainesville resident.

"I also have a (device) that I used to back up everything on my computer 100 years ago. Is it going to copy everything again, or is it going to be selective?

"I’m sure I’ll just have to plug it in to see what will happen, but I guess I was really looking for some kind of warning."

Whereas Howard chose to keep up with changing times by purchasing her own computer in 1999, she noticed that other’s in attendance have had technology thrust upon them.

"There was a lady here, her family gave her a Kindle. She didn’t even have it out of the box yet because she didn’t know how to turn it on," Howard observed.

"She wasn’t techy at all. That’s not an appropriate gift unless you are going to help her download (the programs)."

Although Mary Buckler got a little further with her gifted book reader — she has read one book so far — she still had questions.

"I’m completely illiterate when it comes to computers," said Buckler, a Flowery Branch resident.

"I’m having to learn from scratch."

She may not have much background knowledge when it comes to navigating on computers and other devices, but Buckler is an enthusiastic learner.

"I’m getting ready to go on a cruise for five days and I thought it would be nice to have (a book reader)," said Buckler, who received a Nook by Barnes & Noble as a Christmas gift.

"It takes up less space than packing a lot of books."

Whether or not the device in question was a gift or self-purchase, most people in attendance seemed to be on the same page as Cathy Slaton.

"Everything is a learning experience," said Slaton, a Pendergrass resident.

"You might as well embrace technology. It’s not going anywhere.

"Either embrace it, or be left behind."

According to Kelly Norman, Hall County Parks and Leisure program coordinator, last week’s tutoring session will likely become a regular series.

Howard, who ultimately decided to upgrade her computer’s tower, is happy to hear it.

"I took a computer class at Brenau (University), but that was some time ago. Technology changes every time you turn around, so you have to do this all the time to keep up," she said.

Although she’s looking forward to upgrading her printer so she can print her pictures directly from her digital camera’s memory card, there is some technology Howard has no intentions of embracing.

"Why do we need smart phones? When I got the phone I have now, I said I don’t want a phone that’s smarter than I am," she said with a laugh.

"And I wouldn’t buy one of those book readers. I read at night before I go to bed and I’m not interested in taking a computer to bed with me.

"I said to a friend of mine, your battery goes down and you’re out of luck, but I can still read my book."

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