Young adults, teens, and children may take for granted their ability to see friends virtually with just the tap of a cell phone screen, but not Syosset High School student Asmita Mittal. She knows that many older folks experience difficulties using digital apps and the internet, and that’s why she created Teens Teach Technology (TTT).
“Our entire goal as an organization is to reach as many seniors in need of help as we can,” says Mittal, president of TTT and a 16-year-old rising high school senior.
Mittal launched TTT in May 2020, shortly after the Covid pandemic hit and kept many senior citizens isolated in their homes. She had read an article explaining isolation’s negative mental health impacts on seniors and how nursing home residents could no longer interact even with one another during the pandemic.
“That really hit me, and I felt so bad. I wanted to do something,” Mittal says. “I put two and two together. There’s a whole Gen Z population that knows how to use their phones and Facebook and WhatsApp like the back of their hand.”
So Mittal got to work recruiting her fellow Gen Z-ers. Turns out, it didn’t take much convincing for other teens to want to help seniors. Nicole Lau, a 16-year-old rising junior at Syosset High School, joined and is now the group’s vice president of public relations. Several other Syosset students are on the board or participate as general members, as well as students from other high schools on Long Island and internationally.
“We’re the people that can bring change and help,” Lau says. “All of our programs are free. We try to keep our lessons very interactive but also informational.”
The group gives presentations at libraries, nursing homes, and senior centers through Zoom sessions and teaches useful technological skills that will help seniors interact with others online. They also host one-on-one sessions for anyone who applies through their website.
“This has been a useful tool to improve social connection during the pandemic,” one senior says of the program.
“Great experience for seniors,” another participant says. “I learned a lot.”
Through social media, teenagers from other parts of the country expressed interest in joining TTT. Now the organization has 11 chapters in different states and 180 volunteers, mostly from the United States, but some from India, Egypt, and Dubai, as well.
To learn more about Teens Teach Technology, visit teensteachtechnology.org.