TAMPA — Lucy Albury owns a smartphone but she's not entirely sure how to use it. The 70-year-old can make phone calls and figured that was good enough.
Until a friend recently sent her a photo message.
"I was very surprised because my friend is older than I am and she knows how to do it," she said. "Now, I just want to know how to use all these features."
Albury of Land O'Lakes joined more than 100 seniors Thursday at the Centro Asturiano for a seminar on how to use smartphones and tablets. Presented by AT&T and AARP, the Senior TechRALLY featured hands-on lessons in text messaging, photo sharing and more.
In its third year, the event has proved popular all over the country, said Michele Money-Carson, a spokeswoman for AT&T.
"This segment of the population is the largest, and they are embracing the technology," Money-Carson said. "It's really bridging the gap between generations."
The lesson began with the basics. Instructors handed out phones and taught participants how to turn the devices on and navigate them.
"We touch the screen with the fleshy part of the finger, not the fingernail," said Senior TechRALLY host Mike Majerowicz.
From there, instructors worked their way through the features of the phone, teaching users how to slide, zoom and tap their way to all of them.
For some, the touch screen proved difficult. At one point, a man frantically tapped his phone's screen in an attempt to stop a loud music video he had accidentally clicked on.
When it came time to explore the phone's two cameras, spouses turned to each other and clicked. Others took self-portraits with the phone's front camera, holding the phone out in front of them and smiling awkwardly into the screen.
Majerowicz offered a tip: "You can take a picture to help remember where you parked."
But not everyone was sold on the technology. Though curious, Ken Kotecha, 77, of Tampa, declared his regular cellphone smart enough. "I have a telephone that makes calls," he said. "That's good enough."
Others gathered as much information as they could.
During a lesson on text messaging, a list of common abbreviations popped up on the large screen at the front of the room.
Albury jotted down a few notes:
LOL = laugh out loud.
JK = just kidding.
Those will come in handy, she said, the next time her niece sends a text.
"LOL also means lots of love," her husband, Carl Albury, 69, chimed in.
Those abbreviations scare Vivian Wilson of South Tampa the most. She doesn't bother to reply when her adult daughters send her texts.
"They have their own text message language," the 69-year-old said. "I just don't understand it."
But she's determined to learn.
"Young people have phones in their hands 24 hours a day, they know the language," she said. "But let me tell you something, I do not intend to be left behind."
Maybe she'll even send them a message this week. Unprovoked.
"I'm going to shock them," she said.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3401.