SeniorNet is tapping into the Central Otago market in a bid to get more of the district’s older generation up to speed with technology.
Work to establish the group in Alexandra has started, following a recent meeting to determine the need and whether there would be enough people to support the concept locally.
SeniorNet is designed to teach people how to use technology and help others enhance what they already know.
SeniorNet Federation executive officer Grant Sidaway, who is based in Wellington, established the initiative 25 years ago to help the older generation learn how to use technology for everyday use, including banking, emailing or accessing social media to keep in contact with friends and family.
SeniorNet has since been rolled out throughout much of the country to teach people a range of skills, from simple word processing to searching the internet.
Now Mr Sidaway wants to help fill the technology void in Alexandra – one of the few towns in New Zealand where a SeniorNet group was not active.
He said it had been trialled “years ago” in the town, but had not gained the traction needed.
However, he believed times had since changed, and people were now more willing to accept technology was a way of life.
“There will be people in the district waiting for something like this to start up.” – SeniorNet Federation executive officer Grant Sidaway
“It’s well and truly founded in almost every town and community in the country. It would be a shame not to get something going again in Alexandra,” he said.
He recently hosted a public meeting in the town, which about 20 people attended, including those who wanted to pass on their skills and knowledge.
The meeting was used to gauge if there was enough interest and support, he said.
“I walked away saying ‘Yes, there is’. There will be people in the district waiting for something like this to start up.”
SeniorNet would feature stress-free classes, designed to help people gain skills and confidence to get the most out of technology, including computers and cellphones, to do everyday tasks.
“It will be seniors teaching seniors, learning at their own pace, in a non-challenging environment,” he said.
Grey Power Central Otago secretary Margaret Lorenz believed some of the group’s members would support SeniorNet if it was available.
“It’s like anything. If it’s there you will use it; if it’s not, you look for alternatives.”
Some of those alternatives meant some Grey Power members had called on family to answer their computer-related questions, she said.
The main hurdle for many people was gaining confidence.
“It will be seniors teaching seniors, learning at their own pace, in a non-challenging environment.” – Grant Sidaway
“It’s a security thing.
“I know some [people] don’t use them like they could because they are scared they are going to do something wrong.”
She said that included being fearful of scams or not knowing what to do when an alert appeared on the screen.
However, there were many benefits to being able to use a computer or device, she said.
Among the things she used technology for were downloading books on to her reading tablet and accessing an online library.
SeniorNet Alexandra is in its infancy stage, but could be up and running in the next few months.