Service project idea: Teach senior citizens how to use their smartphones

If you want to feel old, spent a few minutes watching teenagers use their phones.

They tap out messages, swipe through alerts and share selfies while the rest of us are still stuck on our lock screens.

Earlier this month, Scouts from Troop 1 of Dover, Mass., part of the Spirit of Adventure Council, put that smartphone savvy to good use.

As part of an Eagle Scout service project led by Jack Ringel, the Scouts taught senior citizens how to use their smartphones.

“A lot of the projects people do are more physical, like building a bench or something like that,” Jack told the Dover-Sherborn Hometown Weekly. “I wanted to do something different, something a little more technical.”

Jack’s project offers the latest reminder that Eagle Scout projects don’t have to include construction work. Scouts can make a permanent impact even if there’s nothing permanent left behind.

Teaching tech

The day started with a group lesson at the Dover library. Using an iPhone connected wirelessly to an Apple TV, the Scouts mirrored the phone’s image onto a large screen.

That allowed the senior citizens to watch as Scout Dylan Rogers tapped through various apps on his phone.

He showed them how to check the Red Sox score using the MLB app, book flights through the United Airlines app and find their way using the built-in digital compass.

Next, Jack paired each Scout with a senior citizen for some one-on-one help. Using the EDGE method, each Scout explained, demonstrated, guided and enabled these new smartphone users.

Try it in your troop

Jack divided the day into three basic lessons in how to use smartphones. Your Scouts BSA troop or Venturing crew could do the same.

Topics to discuss

  1. Understanding and configuring a smartphone’s settings
  2. Downloading and using apps
  3. Using a smartphone to call, text and video chat with friends and family

Questions to answer in the presentation

  • How do you tell which apps are free and which cost money?
  • How do you delete an unwanted app?
  • How do you connect to free Wi-Fi networks and determine which are trustworthy?
  • How can technology help safely store passwords?
  • What should you do if you lose your phone?

Major props to Jack and Troop 1 for devising a clever service project idea and executing it well.

Scouts can learn a lot from their elders. Jack and Troop 1 proved that the opposite can also be true.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.