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Local Seniors Get Free Classes About New Technology In Midtown

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Senior citizens are getting a leg up on social media and technology, thanks to a free course in Manhattan that is teaching them how to text, surf the Web and much more. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.

Elvie Gibbon is a 76-year-old great grandmother who uses her cellphone every day, but there is just one problem. When people text her, she doesn't quite know how to text them back and she is confused by the current texting obsession.

"They're crazy. Sometimes because they're walking and texting and they bump into you," she says.

But now Gibbon is now learning how to text, post on Twitter and send email, thanks to a free program at the Senior Planet Exploration Center in Midtown, which teaches people age 60 and above how to log on and stay connected.

Tom Kamber, the executive director of Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), believes it is the only center of its kind in the country.

"It's kind of like learning a new language," he says.

The Midtown facility has only been in operation six weeks, but thousands of seniors have already signed up for the free classes.

"They're coming in for Facebook, for Twitter, for doing LinkedIn, for looking for jobs," says Kamber.

"People where it wasn't around when they were growing up, this is a wonderful opportunity and a safe place where it's free and people can come and learn how to use everything." says Jill Steinberg, a partner at Arent Fox.

Carol Wixman is trying her hand at Wii at the center. The 65-year-old watches her grandchildren play it all the time, but she says it is not as much fun as her old childhood games.

"They don't know really what it's like to go out and interact with the other kids on the block and play games that you made up," says Wixman.

But as the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Seniors at the center say they are looking forward to gaming with their grandchildren and texting them back too.

To learn more about the free programs at Senior Planet Exploration Center 127 West 25th Street, visit seniorplanet.org or call 1-646-590-0615.

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