Keller Citizen

iGen students teach digital, social media skills to older friends

Barbara Kelly gets some help from Megan Salomone, 17, with her iPhone at the Keller Senior Citizens Center.
Barbara Kelly gets some help from Megan Salomone, 17, with her iPhone at the Keller Senior Citizens Center. Special to the Star-Telegram

What’s an app and exactly how do you download one? Does my iPad have Chrome? Snapchat? What’s that?

Learning to navigate a high-tech world can be frustrating for those who are digitally challenged, but students in the Keller school district are doing their part to teach their older friends the finer points of smartphones, iPads and laptops and help them better understand social media and find resources like health information and “brain games.”

Shaila Griffis, a junior at Keller High School, sat at a table at the Keller Senior Activities Center, helping Martha M. Lopez set up a fresh-out-of-the-box Google Chromebook.

“I basically just showed her where everything is,” said Griffis, a member of the iGeneration, or Generation Z, depending on which label you prefer. “We changed the wallpaper and some of the settings, and I showed her how to find things.”

Lopez, 81, said the most important thing she learned was how to make the words on the screen bigger.

“I hate to wear my glasses, and this is the best thing she could have taught me,” Lopez said.

The students are in the”Studio K” cosmetology program at the new Keller Center for Advanced Learning and are sharing their technical skills with senior citizens in a new class called Golden Tech Training.

“It’s invaluable for students this age to be around this generation,” cosmetology teacher Renda Songer said. “They get as much as they give.”

Songer brought some of her students out to help with the I Heart BBQ festival last month, which benefits the Keller Senior Activities Center, and asked Kyle Cooper, the center supervisor, about other opportunities to serve the senior community.

Cooper mentioned that he’d learned about a program conducted by students in the Lewisville school district to teach senior citizens technology and asked if there would be a group at the Keller advanced learning center that could help. Songer said her students would love to do that.

A group from Lewisville visited the cosmetology students to talk to them about all the options for technical instruction. The KCAL graphic design program developed a brochure for senior adults that details the services offered and allows them to sign up for lessons.

“I wanted to learn how to create documents and emails,” said Patty Stewart, 73. “She taught me and made it seem so simple.”

Her teacher, Timber Creek High School junior Cassie Vo, said she enjoyed working with the senior adults and hearing about life when they were younger.

“We educated each other,” Vo said.

Jackie Hubbell, 76, shared laughter with her teen teachers over Snapchat filters and “brain games.”

“It was really good,” Hubbell said. “They’ve been just excellent. Very helpful.”

Sandra J. Engelland: 817-390-7323, @SandraEngelland