Due to the pandemic and out of necessity, seasoned adults have adopted more technology into their daily lives. Despite this increase in usage, a recent AARP study found that two in five adults over the age of 50 don’t feel technology is designed with them in mind. The research cites that technical offerings are often too complex, have poor user experiences, and lack sufficient training materials. To address this pain point, Generation Connect, a social impact startup dedicated to bringing together teens with seasoned adults for engagement, enhancement, and entertainment services, has implemented a new initiative entitled GC Help, which is a 1-Click, On-Demand Teen Tech Support service for Seasoned Adults that can also include a refurbished Chromebook.
When seasoned adults activate GC Help, they simply click a button on their Chromebook shelf which opens the GC Help – On-Demand Services page. The seasoned adult clicks a button to record a brief statement about their problem. The audio statement is translated into text and sent to all teens who have opted-in to provide on-demand services. The seasoned adult sees a list of all the teens who have responded and is able to choose the teen they want to help them. Learn more about GC Help.
The two-year-old company began its operations during the shutdown of 2020. Through a pilot program partnering with the Inglewood Senior Center and nearby public and private high schools, the company facilitated virtual meetings between the two generations which offered tech support, online gaming, and common interest bonding over seven sessions culminating in an online gaming tournament. Along with earning community service hours, which is a graduation requirement in many school districts, teens received mentorship from seasoned adults.
Surveys and participant interviews showed that the impact of Generation Connect aligned with numerous studies proving Generativity (the act of receiving personal gain from investing in members of another generation) combats degenerative health conditions in seasoned adults while improving developmental skills in teens, such as initiative, leadership, adaptability, and more. Seasoned adult participants reported fewer feelings of loneliness and social isolation, while teens confirmed increased social prowess and confidence.
Founder and CEO Candace Walker says virtual programming was not the original idea of Generation Connect, but its value was soon validated. Walker points to her personal experiences as the inspiration behind the concept. “My mother lives with my family, and when she needs help with new technology, my teenage children have been the best at helping guide her through the process,” she says. “Not only did they help my mother learn new skills, the process also created another opportunity for them to bond. I realized that this dynamic of pairing teens with seasoned adults could help other households as well.”
The intergenerational programming is available at no charge for all teens and seasoned adults. However, both are vetted prior to joining the Generation Connect community. Adults 18+ undergo a background check, while minors are required to submit parental consent forms as well as faculty recommendations. The GC Help – Teen Tech Support service requires a monthly subscription of $9.99 for unlimited tech support during the hours of 3pm – 9pm weekdays, and 9am – 9pm weekends, with a typical response time of under five minutes and a guaranteed response time of 15 minutes. A refurbished Chromebook is included with a monthly subscription of $15.99.
With two main product offerings, free intergenerational programs, and the low-cost on-demand teen tech support service, Walker hopes to expand the program into other counties and school districts in 2023.