Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
A chatter of voices laughed as people marveled at the smartphones in their hands. Senior citizens at the AT&T Reconnect Tour leaned over to see each other phone screens at the mobile technology education workshop for seniors, pointing to the phone’s different features.
The group of about 100 was learning how to check the weather and preset their phones to show them forecasts for different locations.
“Okay, I know the weather is fun, but let’s try something else,” Naomi Dean, host of the workshop, told attendees on Nov. 20 at the Heritage Senior Center.
The AT&T Reconnect Tour stopped in Irving as part of its journey through 15 cities across the country. The Tour, in partnership with smartphone maker Pantech, is meant to teach technology newcomers to the fast-changing world of mobile communication, including smartphones, tablets and apps.
“Mobile technology has really changed the way we communicate with friends and family and many of us have come to rely on these tools to stay connected,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president – Devices, AT&T. “By teaming up with Pantech on the AT&T Reconnect Tour, we hope to help these tech newcomers feel more comfortable with technology and show them new ways that it can make their lives easier.”
The Irving group was divided into smaller clusters of about 10 people with each small group having an AT&T technician to help them navigate their phones. Among other things, the group learned how to place a phone call, take a photo and send text messages by typing and through voice command.
“It looks like we’re getting the hang of the keyboard,” Dean said. “Let’s look at some common text messaging abbreviations.”
Dean walked the group through the shortened phrases, stopping at “Lol.”
“You normally write this when there’s a joke or something’s funny,” she said. “You’re not really laughing out loud.”
But attendees were laughing in good humor as they accidentally sent texts to wrong numbers and took pictures of Styrofoam cups.
“Personally, we have a smartphone, but there’s a knowledge gap there,” participant Jan Killen said. “I just thought it was a good opportunity to learn.”