Volunteer teens help New Jersey seniors cope with rigors of new technology

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Joe Torres has the story of teen tutors for tech-challenged seniors.

Some tech-savvy youngsters are helping New Jersey seniors cope with the rigors of new devices and technology. But when it comes to proper instruction, not all tutors are created equal.

Frances Richardson got herself a brand new iPhone.

"I wanted to be really hip," she said. "I got the latest thing going, but I don't know how to use it."

And that's where Darren Wilkins come in. The 13-year-old whiz kid wrote a nine-chapter curriculum that he uses to teach seniors some of the technological wonders packed into their handy-dandy smart phones.

Richardson knew how to answer it, but that's about it.

"I didn't know how to do group texts," she said. "I didn't know how to receive the updated data, how to filter out which was legit and which wasn't, which I still have problems with that."

Wilkins and his senior student came together through the Intergenerational Computer Training Program established by Randy Glover, who says not all teens are ready to become tech tutors.

"We need young people who are patient," he said. "So if I ask you a question 10 times, you are not going to be upset with me. You're going to have the patience to say OK."

And he had nothing but praise for Wilkins.

"He's more grown up than a typical 13-year-old would be, so you can build rapport with him," he said. "Sometimes, these other kids, they've got their minds someplace else, and you can't relate to them at all."

The beauty of the program is that the teaching goes both ways. While Richardson learns about technology, Wilkins learns about history.

"She's always teaching me about how it was before phones and before electricity," he said. "And so that's always something that's kind of mesmerizing for me. Because you think, well how did you survive without being able to send a text message?"
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