Where's the Any Key? Teen Charges Up Retirement Community with Tech Class

PHOTO: Resident seniors are taught how to use smart phones, apps, photo editing and iCloud by a local volunteer teenager in Lake Ridge, Virginia.PlayJanet Weinstein/ABC News
WATCH Where's the Any Key? Teen Charges Up Retirement Community With Tech Class

Laughter is constant in this room full of a dozen-or-so seniors as they toy around with new technology.

“What are you doing to make it go away?” asks 78-year-old, Richard Smith.

“I guess I took my hand off the mouse?” giggles his wife, 79-year-old Caroline Smith.

Every month, Westminster at Lake Ridge retirement community in northern Virginia helps residents keep up with modern-day gadgets by hosting a tech class. This session is about how to edit photos.

The course is run by 17-year-old volunteer Christian Magnuson, who chuckles as he overhears his students’ conversations.

“It’s fun! They don’t quite get it right away, we have to show them basically how to turn it on, but once they get it, you can see it click,” Magnuson told ABC News.

Magnuson began teaching the class about a year-and-a-half ago, after his sister started volunteering in another area of the assisted living community.

“I came in one Tuesday and they had about six [tech] problems and I solved about five of them," he said. "And I thought, 'hey, I’m pretty good at this. Why don’t I keep doing it?'”

PHOTO: Rita Taggard takes notes while attending a technology class at her retirement community. When I get frustrated, I just stop. Because Ive learned the hard way if I keep pushing buttons, Im not learning a thing, she told ABC News.Janet Weinstein/ABC NEWS
Rita Taggard takes notes while attending a technology class at her retirement community. "When I get frustrated, I just stop. Because I've learned the hard way if I keep pushing buttons, I'm not learning a thing," she told ABC News.

So far, Magnuson has taught residents to how to use smart phones, apps, cloud software and now photo editing. He says his favorite memory was teaching the residents how to use FaceTime, with one eager student calling a grandchild during the class.

“[Another time], somebody called their friend and asked them to call them back so they could hear their ringtone,” Magnuson says. “The most satisfying part [is] watching the people take what I taught them and to build off that. And to continue their desire to learn.”

The students say they’re grateful for Magnuson's patience, but the class can certainly get hard.

“The easiest part about this class was actually just signing up and walking in the door,” jokes student John Hopkins, 70. “All I wanted was a telephone and I got a computer that made phone calls.”

On a serious note though, Hopkins says: “I think these classes have changed my life in a way that I approach things. If I’m hesitant about something, I just need to find out a little bit of information about it, and just apply myself.”

Fellow classmate, 75-year-old Alice Uong, agrees.

“Friends my age are overwhelmed with the fact that I have an iPhone. Forget about all the rest of the things that go with it,” she says.

“I need something that needs mental challenge... It’s an excellent class.”

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