Generation Tech: Challenges Creating Connection Between Generations During the Pandemic


Jane McCauley

A student works with GenTech in 2020.

Emily Gleason, News Editor

Generation Tech aims to break down the barriers between older and younger generations through technology, and the COVID-19 pandemic created new barriers for the club to overcome. 

“[Because of the pandemic] we had to become more creative in how we were to help senior citizens out,” Shreyas Sriram, President of Generation Tech, said. “We’d have these huge group discussions [over zoom] where we started off with going over their technology problems and then [we would start] talking about how to stay connected.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Generation Tech mainly went in-person to retirement communities, such as the Holly Creek Retirement Community in Centennial, and adult daycares to assist with technology. During and since the pandemic, however, Generation Tech has been forced to shift its focus to both online and in-person events. 

“With our kind of core model of going and seeing senior citizens [in person] we were very disrupted when that became a threat to their health,” junior Nathan Sunker, a member in Generation Tech, said. 

Since in-person interactions were nearly impossible, Generation Tech held online webinars using Zoom to ensure that senior citizens were able to continue learning how to use different technologies in their everyday lives and to stay connected. 

Sunker, who volunteers every Saturday at Holly Creek Retirement Community, explained that research has found that as retired citizens age, they often experience a ‘sugar rush,’ where they have several years of well-being and satisfaction in their lives. Yet, it soon fades and brings a decline in their happiness. In order to combat this ‘sugar rush,’ Generation Tech uses technology to help keep older citizens engaged and happy. 

Sriram explained that the connection between senior citizens and teenagers is essential to building community because as teenagers are heading off to college and becoming independent, senior citizens are the people that teens should turn to because of their experiences.

Generation Tech was initially started in winter of 2018 by former Creek student Zachary Wang, who is currently a sophomore at Dartmouth college, because students “began to identify an issue that generations are drifting further apart,” as Sriram put it. 

Wang had volunteered at the Johnson adult day care program and he saw that people were struggling with iphones and other technology. According to a 2016 Pew Research study, Americans who were confident in their digital skills and their ability to find trustworthy information online tended to be disproportionately under the age of 65. After spending time working on technology with these people, Wang decided to start Generation Tech to help connect the generations with technology.

Although Generation Tech uses technology and helps older citizens with technology, the club’s main goal is to connect generations.

“The root of our mission isn’t really technology support . . . we go beyond that,” Sriram said. “We’re actually trying to improve the connection between the younger and older generations, and that’s actually the heart of our cause.”