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Seniors learn technology tricks

AARP and Consumer Cellular workshops make seniors tech savvy


REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - David Farris and Nancy Seaman from Newberg gained lots of confidence during the workshop.The adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” was mightily disproved March 22.

Approximately two dozen seniors attended a free hands-on Technology Education Knowledge (TEK) Workshop at the Juanita Pohl Center in Tualatin to learn about the bells and whistles on their smartphones and tablets. The workshop was hosted by AARP and Consumer Cellular in an effort to close the technology gap among people age 50 and older.

Though technology is a part of everyday life, according to AARP — a nonprofit seeking to help people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities — millions of people older than 50 still aren’t online, including 22 percent of baby boomers and 48 percent of seniors. Barriers include cost, lack of perceived relevance and fear of having fallen behind so far they can’t catch up. The AARP TEK workshops are intended to empower people, making them tech savvy to enrich their lives.STAFF PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jim Groat from Portland gets tips on using his smartphone from instructor Jennifer Lindsay.

Instructor Jennifer Lindsay started at the very beginning, explaining the difference between Android and Apple phones; how to make a call and how to turn the phone off to prevent pocket dialing. Attendees were taught how to control the ring tone volume, how to add contacts; how to take photos, including selfies; connect to the Internet; when and how to use Wi-Fi; how to text; send photos; how to add emojis; using maps and to download apps.

“Ninety-six percent of those who send text messages get replies within 90 seconds,” Lindsay told the class. “But the average reply to an email is 5,400 seconds. That’s 90 minutes.”

One woman attested to the power of texting, saying she never heard from her grandson. But when she learned how to text and sent him a message, he replied immediately.

Aside from being a quick, and silent means of communication, Lindsay said texting has proved extremely valuable for the deaf, opening up their communication world, and in mountain rescue missions. REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Rosemary and Hans Heyer work through an exercise during the workshop.

“Often a text message can get out when a call won’t,” she said. “Mountain rescue crews will tell you texting has saved lives.”

Attendees felt comfortable asking for help when they needed it. Assisting with the class was Thomas, the tech assistant, who gave assistance when attendees were having difficulty.

“We’re still backing out of the garage,” said David Farris, who needed more time to complete at task.

“We’re not on the freeway, yet,” Nancy Seaman of Newberg said.

The consensus at the end of the workshop was that all had learned something new and had more confidence about using their phones.

“I have thousands of questions and will probably take the class again,” Seaman said. “I feel confident of what I learned but I’m eager to learn more.”

“The feedback on the classes from attendees is amazing,” said John Marick, co-founder and CEO of Consumer Cellular. “The workshops are great for people who may have had their phone for a while but haven’t figured it all out yet. We need to focus, too, on those who are not comfortable, they have a new phone and need help right now.”REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jim Groat and other workshop attendees work on manipulating their phones.

Consumer Cellular offers customers technical support and training through call centers, videos and written manuals, as well as through the workshops.

Consumer Cellular is one of the longest operating and largest mobile virtual network operators of cellular phone service in the United States. In October 1995, Marick and co-founder Greg Pryor launched Consumer Cellular on the belief that everyone should have access to the safety and convenience of cellular service, and that the service should be easy to understand and use.

At that time, Consumer Cellular had two employees. Under Marick’s leadership, Consumer Cellular has grown to more than 1,200 employees and 2 million customers with call centers in Tigard and Redmond in Oregon and Tempe, Ariz. Customer service is key with Consumer Cellular; the call centers are staffed by friendly, courteous staff who can answer questions but also refer customers to tutorial videos for future reference, or provide written manuals. REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Instructor Jessica Lindsay illustrates a point in her presentation.

Today, Consumer Cellular is a top-rated wireless carrier that provides no-contract cellphones and service plans to those 50 and older.

The company has been an AARP provider since 2008, and offer AARP members special discounts on service.

Consumer Cellular has received the highest Consumer Reports score in five of the last six years, based on a survey of nearly 90,000 Consumer Reports subscribers, and has the highest overall satisfaction rating of all mobile carriers as found by the Nielsen Mobile Insights Study.

Consumer Cellular offers cellphone service to all people, regardless of age.

“We are really proud of what we offer,” Marick said. “We might look like a small family, but we are growing.”

Marick said the free AARP TEK workshops will continue through April. Besides the Juanita Pohl Center in Tualatin, workshops are held at Beaverton City Library, 12375 S.W. Fifth St., Beaverton and at Smith Memorial Union at Portland State University, 1825 S. W. Broadway in Portland. Learn more online at www.aarptek.org or call 866-740-6947.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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