How many of us wake up in the morning to an I-Phone alarm; receive text messages and phone calls throughout the day; turn on a TV to watch a paid movie channel; send emails; visit a family member or friend by facetime; engageFacebook and several other social platforms, and more recently attend Zoom meetings? In the United States this looks like it has become the norm, yet for more than some, this is not the case.
Technology has boomed in the past 20 years! Being connected with the world and others can happen through technology while never leaving one’s home. Having the financial and educational resources has made this possible.
One can order meals, products and services all through the luxury of ordering online. Never before has this convenience for those who have access been more appreciated than during this pandemic.
On the other side, never before has the disparity of access to technology and having the means to be tech savvy shown up more starkly. Probably the first community members to feel left out in this arena is the senior, who has not kept up with technology advances or hasn’t had the resources to learn.
Sheltering in place has amplified isolation and without the use of broader technology, seniors are sadly being left out of social engagement.
Kendal-Crosslands Communities immediately took on the task of training residents on Zoom after the shutdown. Without being free to gather, this platform has provided some level of social interaction through the computer not only within their own location, but with the broader community.
A high five to those who were willing and able to learn and engage this novel opportunity. We send loving support to those living with physical and mental challengeswho cannot pursue this frontier.
One has to have a heart for a person, who was raised in a time period when having a personal phone in the home was a luxury and mostly all communication was either by letter or in-person. Phone calls are now their norm, but advanced technology is not.
One thing we each could do is regularly check-in with a senior by phone if they have no other way to socially connect and appreciate and validate his/her presence in our community.
Being involved with the Southern Chester County School Districts during their virtual schooling has been another eye-opener that is highlighting the importance of every student having access to the internet and adequate equipment to engage effectively in a virtual school.
There is not enough praise for the technology school district employees, who are working passionately and overtime in assuring students have what they need--- yet the struggle continues. One comment made by a Kennett School District technology person; “We knew we needed to assure every household would be equipped for technology, but this was our five-year plan, not this soon.”
Hearing stories of students dropping out of school, because their home had no access to Internet is just not acceptable. Hearing stories of inadequate Internet connection in the home and students missing out on classes is unacceptable. Not having the resources to communicate technology instructions to the non-English speaking student is unacceptable.
Jim Mercante and Dr. Ray Fisher heading up the Education Discovery Technology Group are working on forming a Technology Equity Advocacy Group that will work on three fronts: accessibility and adequacy for Internet home services; affordable Internet services; and language appropriate classes in technology for families.
If anyone has the interest in joining this group please contact Jim Mercante by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, I repeat the vision that Bridging the Community has lifted up for over 20 years—"Kennett Square: Every day a better place to grow up in and grow old in.” As we work together to address the disparity that technology has presented for our seniors and our youth, we are indeed moving toward that vision.