Niagara Gazette

Features

November 14, 2010

Helping senior cross the digital divide

Seniors can learn to love computers

NIAGARA FALLS — It happens all the time on television. Newspapers are guilty as well. Viewers and readers who want more information about any topic are told to go online.

That’s great for people who keep a laptop nearby but for senior citizens without computers all this web/Internet talk makes them feel completely out of the cultural loop.

To make matters worse, their children and grandchildren are staying in touch through e-mails and social networking sites, sharing pictures and stories. No computer, no prom pictures.

“I call it e-exclusion,” said Kim Tomaszewski, who recently started a business called Net Crackers, which teaches the technically impaired. “There is a digital divide,” she added. “It’s almost like not being able to read and write.”

Tomaszewski started the business in July after a friend convinced her she would be perfect in such a business. She met with several advisors from SCORE, which provides retired business people to advise small business.

Then she did some market research. “I called 15 facilities. My goal was to receive five positive responses. I received 13.”

So she leaped. The former charter school teacher purchased five laptops and got started, offering private lessons and group classes.

One of her first students was Louise Lascelle, a Niagara Falls real estate associate broker at Metro Paradiso, who had been working with a computer since Multiple Listings became computerized, but who didn’t know how to do anything else but check homes for sale.

“I was having to fax things because I didn’t know how to attach to e-mails,” Lascelle said. After a lesson with Tomaszewski, she learned not only how to attach documents to e-mails, but to send and share photos. She also learned how to set up a Facebook page to help her stay in touch with family and friends.

Becky Conde, the senior services program coordinator for the city of Niagara Falls is working to get Net Cracker classes set up at the John Duke and LaSalle Senior centers in January. She said that learning to use a computer is vital for connecting seniors to their families.

“There are so many people who have no family left here,” said Conde. “Their kids who are away are not calling each other (on the phone), they’re e-mailing and Facebooking and their grandparents want to do the same thing.”

The Net Cracker classes are designed to start from the very beginning of computer usage. Tomaszewski shows her students how to turn the computer on.

“The biggest thing I’ve found to do is to make the classes fun,” she said. “Because they’re very intimidated.”

She describes classes where students have learned to access cooking videos, family genealogy and video games. She even shows the classes how to use Google for information and to how to locate and play favorite TV shows they might have missed. Her classes really seem interested in how to share photos from computer to computer.

“Photos are a big thing,” she said, “because nobody has hard (paper) copies of pictures anymore.”

Her computers are set up so that students can easily learn how to use Skype, a free video conferencing website, much like a video phone.

“One of my ladies has a grandchild in Ireland she never sees,” Tomaszewski said, noting the woman was particularly interested in using the video feature on her computer. “Skype is free. All you need is a web cam and in the newer computers it is built in.”

In all, the leap to starting her own business was worth it, Tomaszewski said. “I have the best job in the whole world.” Those who want to learn more can contact her at 531-0494 or visit thenetcracker.com.

The Niagara Falls native who now lives in North Tonawanda said that after she teaches someone the basics of computer usage, their life changes.

“Their quality of life is so much better,” she added. “It opens them to a world they’ve been excluded from.”

LEARN MORE

WHO: Net Crackers

WHAT: Kim Tomaszewski provides introductory computer instruction.

MORE INFO: Call 531-0494 or visit thenetcracker.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • SUN LIFE Opera intern 072714.jpg [Duplicate] Singing her heart out: Newfane woman wins prestigious apprenticeship twice. Rebecca Witty says she started singing in the womb. That might be an exaggeration, but the Newfane woman's love of music began at a very early age. "Music has always been in my life since I was a kid," she said. "My family is made up of musicians so that has played a big part of my love for music since the beginning."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Chef cooking demos 2 072714.jpg [Duplicate] F-BITES: Celebrity chef Bobby Anderson wants kids to learn more than just cooking. As a loudspeaker played "Waiting for the World to Change," Chef Bobby Anderson was busy changing it, just the other day. For Anderson, the cooking lessons he's conducting with local students this summer on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls are entertaining crowds and giving young chefs life-changing exposure to new foods, new flavors and new experiences.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE fair story 6 072714.jpg [Duplicate] More than rides and food at the Niagara County Fair

    July 28, 2014 8 Photos

  • mug - stack, catherine RGB [Duplicate] [Duplicate] NATURAL HEALTH: Taking a closer look at migraine causes and treatments

    Headaches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a mild tension headache to a migraine that has you locked up in a dark room afraid to move. Migraine and cluster headaches are by far the worst. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE tattoo 3 072714.jpg [Duplicate] Behind the tattoo gun — Niagara Tatoo Expo coming up

    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink. 

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • mug - Jennings, Thom RGB [Duplicate] JENNINGS: It's the end of an era for fans of The Ramones

    Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi formed one of the most influential bands in music history in 1974 — better known by their stage names Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone. The last surviving member, Tommy, passed away July 11.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE TOPS woman 2 072714 .jpg [Duplicate] Local woman honored for weight-loss success

    After Carolyn Sherman’s husband passed away, she became depressed, and her weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds. Wheelchair-bound, she ended up at Odd Fellow & Rebekah Health Care Facility in Lockport.

     

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • NIA Biz logo 072814 IN BUSINESS: ReNU director named to '30 Under 30' list Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, has been named to the 2014 class of Buffalo Business First's 30 Under 30 honorees. The award recognizes 30 Western New Yorkers in the early stages of their careers who are achieving at high levels at work and in the community.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUNLIFELexisPlace1072014jpg (1).jpg Lexi's Place: A safe haven for teens battling suicide, sexual abuse and depression

    In a perfect world, a 14-year-old wouldn’t know exactly how it feels to try suicide.
    An 11-year-old who reaches out to the unwanted kids at school would not be thrown against a locker and bullied by other teens trying to make her feel small.
    And surely no teen would have a father who, when she was small, would give her to his friends for sex.
    All those things happened to the teens at Lexi’s Place.

    July 22, 2014 8 Photos

  • SUN LIFE wine fest 3 072014.jpg [Duplicate] Sip the Niagara Wine Trail's best in one location The Niagara Wine Trail reveals it's sweetness slowly, and only to those dedicated enough to spend the time. There are 27 wineries and to sample a taste of each requires much driving through the backroads of the Niagara region, and far too much sipping to make driving a logical possibility. That's what makes the trail's 6th annual Wine and Culinary event such a good idea. Wine lovers who've always wanted to explore the new and unusual offerings of the 14-year-old wine trail, can do so next weekend, all in one place.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page