Free tech classes for older New Yorkers

NEW YORK (PIX11) — A new report surveying hundreds of New York seniors living in public housing shows that tablets using free technology classes can fight not only social isolation and loneliness, but depression as well.

Jean Dublin, 69, of Woodson Houses in Brownsville, said she felt like a child again. All because she learned how to use a computer. It was a huge win for the great-grandmother.

Dublin can now check her email, access Facebook and Zoom with her grandkids. It started in 2020. Dublin was one of NYCHA’s 10,000 senior New Yorkers who received free tablets from a program called Connected NYCHA. She doesn’t know how to use it. Dublin discovered free tech courses through a nonprofit called Senior Planet.

With more than 40 locations in New York City, Senior Planet offers free in-person and virtual training in community and senior centers. You just need to be over 60 and willing to learn. These classes teach more advanced basic computer knowledge, such as budgeting at home, how to log into fitness classes, and even how to stream videos on social media, YouTube, and more.

Dublin is not alone. A new report released this week by the Humana Foundation-backed Seniors Technology Services (OATS) surveyed 461 seniors living in NYCHA who received free internet-connected tablets. 60% feel more connected to family and friends, while 52% report feeling less lonely during the pandemic.

Maria Arnold, 65, who lives in her Bronx River home, said the pandemic has been a devastating time for her family. The Internet gave her comfort. Arnold said her grandchildren told her she would never learn how to use a computer. She proved them wrong.

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