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It’s time to get wired!

Support services to help you make the most of new technology

Created date

January 24th, 2012

Computers, social networking, smartphones these technological wonders have changed the way Americans live and interact with each other. Suddenly, a friend who lives a continent away is as close as the nearest screen. How we work, shop, read, bank, and spend our leisure time has been forever changed by technology. For those who embrace the new chip-driven society, life has never been better, but for the small minority of people who have not, life is growing increasingly difficult. Technology puts the world at your fingertips, but learning to use the latest devices can be a challenge for some. Computers don t come with manuals anymore because the possibilities are endless, says Jon Aumann, a Geek Squad supervisor in Timonium, Md. There are whole sections of the library devoted to what you can do with computers. Older Americans lag behind younger generations in their use of new technology, but their interest is growing. According to the Pew Internet Project, computer use among Americans 65 and older has doubled in the past ten years, while Internet usage among that age group has more than tripled. Clearly, older people want to embrace new technology they just need to figure out how.

House calls for tech troubles

Geek Squad is one of a number of tech support services that help people set up and use new technology. Located in Best Buy stores across the country, Geek Squad helps consumers conquer a wide array of techno-conundrums. For example, take your computer and your software into any Geek Squad outpost and for about $30, they will install your software. For more complicated jobs or if you don t want to disrupt your home setup, Geek Squad makes house calls. We come out to your house and go through the setup with you, says Aumann. And with all of our services, there s a demonstration after the work is performed so we can sit down with you and show you how to operate the technology we have just installed. We ll also go through some basic troubleshooting so if something doesn t work exactly the way it is supposed to, which is probably going to happen at some point, we ll give you some ideas on how you can solve those little things without getting frustrated or so you don t have to keep calling for help. We try to make you self-sufficient. Other services provided by Geek Squad include home theater setup, help managing remote controls, smartphones, and tablets, and help with car devices such as GPS and satellite radio. These things make life easier, but for many people, getting there is complicated and that s what we are here to help with, says Aumann. Many people come in resigned to the fact that they just don t understand technology. What we try to do is to break that mentality because once you realize that technology is not something to fear, you see all the things you can do. Once you re excited about something, that s when you re going to want to learn. And that s when the process starts to stick with you.

Help for your ' smartphone is a ' phone call away

The majority of older Americans have cell phones; some are reluctant to trade in their basic models for more advanced smartphones which can do practically everything: access the Internet, take photos, act as a navigational device, etc. They certainly cost more and operating them is more complicated than a basic cell phone. Recognizing people s aversion to spending a lot of money on something they may not be able to operate, RadioShack has a solution. Buy your smartphone at any of RadioShack s more than 4,600 U.S. retail locations and you have access to the company s new Mobile Product Support, a free call service for customers to ask questions and learn about their device. The service is available with any mobile device purchase and includes free expert support over the lifetime of the device.

Your grandchildren know all about this stuff

Teens are tech gurus by nature, says Nancy Lublin, CEO at DoSomething.org, a national organization that guides teens toward social service. This past December, Do Something and Grandparents.com launched Grandparents Gone Wired, an intergenerational campaign to help older people get connected to Skype, an Internet phone service. We are thrilled to support this year s Grandparents Gone Wired campaign, as there s no more meaningful connection in one s life than family, said Jacqueline Botterill, head of social good at Skype. We want to help as many grandparents, seniors, aunts and uncles, and the rest of the extended family learn how easy it is to use Skype every day. This way, they can regularly see their loved ones and do things together, regardless of where they may be around the world. I ve spent years in the tech space, but it s my kids who help keep me ahead of the curve, personally and professionally. I imagine that s true for parents and grandparents everywhere, says Jeffrey Mahl, president of Grandparents.com. So when we heard about the Grandparents Gone Wired campaign, we wanted to be a part of it! michele.harris@erickson.com

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