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New program promotes generational interaction

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If there is one talent that American kids possess, it is using computers to navigate the world of the Internet. It’s strange to think how kids today grow up online — as you can tell from their detailed Facebook timelines — while the older generations can barely figure out how to work a keyboard. However, senior citizens are relearning what’s groovy: Their grandkids are ready to use their computer skills to teach grandma and grandpa how to work Facebook, Twitter, and beyond.

Students from Mt. Lebanon’s Mellon Middle School in Pittsburgh are sharing their talents by teaching computer skills to the elderly after school. Once a week, kids volunteer for about an hour to explain Gmail and social media platforms to local senior citizens. The way I see it, it’s a win-win for both generations.

The most obvious victors in this situation are the senior citizens — after even a single lesson, grandma can log online.
The elderly step away from class equipped to navigate the Internet. They can discover holiday recipes or reconnect with old neighbors. They can surprise their children with emails, and their grandchildren with e-cards.

In an age where online communication is the preferred means of connection, it is essential that everyone has the skills to access this new method of interaction. What better way to learn about online communication than with the help of youths?
As rewarding of an experience this is for the elderly, it is equally beneficial for the students. The middle school’s new program is a hands-on way for young adolescents to give back to their community and to interact with a generation that they often do not — with the exception of their grandparents.

This new program is also a creative paradigm for other schools looking to get their students involved. Neighboring schools should follow the lead of the Mt. Lebanon school to get their children involved with technology in a way that is beneficial to not only themselves, but to a wider audience. Mellon Middle School should be applauded for its creative way of teaching students about community involvement and technology through experience.

Technology moves quickly, and innovative practices are as important as innovative technology. The new program at Mellon Middle School gives children a hands-on taste of what it means to be a leader; since the Internet is a tool younger people feel comfortable with, they can confidently teach their elders how to use it. Middle school kids are rarely granted responsibilities; this program is a fun and easy way for them to take up that first challenge.