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Parkville retirees going High Tech

New generation developing a taste for Apple's iPad

Created date

April 23rd, 2013

There are two things Barbara Zorn never leaves home without: her keys and her iPad. She is part of an ever-growing population of tech-savvy retirees embracing the latest electronic gadgets. My iPad is next to me all day and night. I use it to check my email, surf the Web, and even to find out what s on TV, says Barbara, who lives at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md. According to a recent study released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, half of Americans age 65 and older are online, seven in ten seniors own a cellphone, and one in three online seniors use social networking sites such as Facebook. Barbara received her first iPad in 2010 as a birthday gift from her kids, and this past February, they surprised her again with the newest version, the iPad 4. Many people my age are now receiving iPads from their kids or grandkids as gifts, says Barbara. It s a fabulous gift, but not if you don t understand it or know how to use it.

Support group

To help level out the learning curve, Barbara, along with Oak Crest neighbor Scott Phillips, have formed the iPad owners forum to support the fast-growing number of iPad users at the Parkville community. We thought we might get 12 to 15 people who would be interested in joining, says Barbara. So we were surprised when 39 people showed up to the first meeting! The group meets monthly, and members raise questions about the device and share information on everything from iPad settings to how to charge the battery properly and how to use applications that come with the iPad, like calendar, mail, and Safari. We have some people who just want to find out more about the iPad before they buy one; others who purchased an iPad and open the box in class for the first time; and a few who know the basics but still want to learn about all of the options the iPad offers, says Barbara.

iPad 101

The iPad measures roughly 9.5 by 7.31 and weighs about 1.33 lbs. Apple also offers a smaller version, the iPad mini, which comes in at 7.87 by 5.43 and weighs 0.68 lbs. Both models carry most of the functionality of a computer but are hand-held and, instead of a keyboard, use a touchscreen. Once connected to the Internet via a wireless network, which the device detects immediately if available, the iPad can be used to check email, surf the Web, read books, or explore countless apps software applications that do everything from simulate a piano on screen to report the weather. Oak Crest residents have access to free Wi-Fi in all of the community s public areas, including lounges, classrooms, and restaurants. Scott, a retired military analyst for the Department of Defense, has been an enthusiastic user of Apple products for years. In addition to his iPad, he has an iPod and two Macintosh computers. I have applications that are unique to only my iPad, including a TV guide, weather reports, a Kindle reader for e-books, FaceTime for video calls to my family, TripAdvisor and Yelp for checking restaurants nearby or on the road, says Scott. It s exciting to see this generation jumping into this new technology. For many people the iPad can easily be a substitute for a computer. The whole online world is opened up to you, he says. Barbara says the iPad owners forum has not only proven to be a good educational outlet, but has also provided a great social platform for people with similar interests.

Pure bedlam

Learning new technology can be terribly frustrating, says Barbara. Sometimes I think the class is like pure bedlam, and then I stand back and see how much everyone is enjoying themselves and how much they re learning, and it feels good. Like many iPad users, Barbara also owns a personal computer. But she says she finds herself using her iPad most of the time. I love my computer, but the iPad is different, says Barbara. It is more of a personalized, individual tool. I love it so much, but I have to admit sometimes I feel guilty like I m letting my PC down.