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Squamish youth column: How can we as teenagers help elders with the new technologies, including AI?

Alec Fang is a Squamish teen and member of the Squamish Youth Council.
Teens can help older family members learn and use technology, says youth columnist Alec Fang.

At last week’s OpenAI’s first developer conference, Chat GPT-4 Turbo, with the latest features, was released. 

AI and smart devices such as your phone, laptop, TV and even cleaning robots have walked into our life. But not everyone is ready for these new technologies. My piano teacher still has a hard time using Zoom for classes. While automatic checkout lines are convenient, stores still have to hire people to teach customers how to use them.

Most elders were not as up to date as teenagers, who were surrounded by advanced technology devices like our laptops, e-readers, smart TVs, and even smart fridges!

Take me for example, I am so addicted to my phone, that losing it just might kill me. 

But some elders even have trouble operating the television remote, much less use things like Chat GPT.

One time, when my grandparents were visiting from China, they wanted to watch television, but they could not even turn it on because they didn’t know how to use the remote.

They were too embarrassed to ask for help. I showed them how to turn the television on, but after they scrolled down the menu a million times, they still couldn’t find their show. With my help, they could finally enjoy their show. Later, I found them watching TV on their own, and I realized they were perfectly capable of adapting to new technologies, but they needed help. It might be hard for the elders to learn how to operate new technologies, but we can help them, closing this gap between generations.

Can we go beyond merely helping our own family members individually? Are there things teenagers can do to help elders become more familiar with new technologies?


We can hold classes at the seniors housing complex or the library to teach seniors how to use smartphones and e-readers. We could host community events to introduce smart appliances that could simplify their lives. But most exciting of all, teenagers can promote the use of Chat GPT, which is quite easy to use.

For seniors who are lonely, AI gives them someone to chat with. AI also makes it easier for people to find information, because you can ask the bot for information instead of searching manually. Some seniors may have trouble typing, so with the help of Chat GPT, they can save effort by commanding AI to write an email for them.

In conclusion, seniors can benefit from using new technologies, especially AI; however, like my grandparents, they might be too embarrassed to ask for help. Teenagers are the ideal teachers because we are competent at using AI, and are enthusiastic about helping others.

Alec Fang is a Squamish teen and member of the Squamish Youth Council.

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