Students Making A Difference Helping Older New Zealanders Become Tech-Savvy
After witnessing the social isolation and difficulties older New Zealanders experienced during Covid-19 lockdown, three Law students sought a solution to help combat this issue.
Three Canterbury students are trying to close the digital divide between the generations as they provide a service which helps older New Zealanders master their daunting technology so they can connect with loved ones and carry out tasks online.
It all began when Amelia, Emily and Phoebe, all Law and Art students at the University of Canterbury struggled to contact their grandparents during lockdown and noticed this was not an isolated issue. Their grandparents' lack of know-how to use their device was the largest barrier to their grandparents not being able to connect with them. Amelia, Emily and Phoebe saw this as an opportunity to educate people on how to use their device as lockdown really highlighted the benefits technology can provide.
After lockdown, the three students continued the conversation with their community and found that there are no options available for older New Zealanders to learn technology on their terms and in a comfortable environment. While group sessions, help desks and getting family to assist are an option, this is not for everyone as some lack confidence while others find it difficult to get out of the home.
“The thing with new devices that come out today is that they don’t come with an instruction book. We wanted to be the instruction book to show people how to use their technology”. – Amelia McLuskie, Co-Founder
Being inspired by winning a competition with the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship, they developed GranSkills, which matches someone in need of technological assistance with a tutor. The tutor comes to their home for 60-minute sessions to provide one-on-one guidance on how to use their device for everyday use and teaches to their pace. Whether it is navigating their device, emailing a friend or online shopping, GranSkills will teach them. Their mission is to empower people to be more confident and skilled when it comes to using everyday technology.
“My confidence has grown so I can now explore some of the other issues I need to solve” – Noni, GranSkills client
“The sessions so far have been life-changing for some of our clients as they have unlocked a whole new world, all in the comfort of their home. Teaching them how to video-call their loved ones is often the most rewarding experience” – Phoebe McCaughan, Co-Founder & GranSkills Tutor
They recently launched and have already helped many older Cantabrians with their technology. Alongside helping older New Zealanders master their technology, they also have a focus on the increasing issue of cyber security and will educate their customers so they can feel confident to use their technology.
“Some of the scam stories we have heard have been horrifying. We want to use our service to also help educate others and spread awareness on how to look out for the scammers” -Emily O’Sullivan, Co-Founder
The three founders are the original tutors but within three weeks of launching, they have already recruited an additional tutor. While they are based in Christchurch now, they are planning to grow beyond the garden city so they can help even more New Zealanders on their technological journey. A person can receive a 60-minute session with GranSkills for only $49.