Smartphones have their benefits. A source of connection for seniors home alone, they can also provide pass times such as games, social media, and photo sharing with friends and family, as well as be an aid for health and wellness through step tracking and monitoring apps. However, as with most technology, along with everything good, smartphones should also be used with caution.
Step #1: What are you using your smartphone for?
The first step to cellphone ownership for seniors should be deciding on its main usage. Are you Face Timing with the grandkids, or is it strictly for emergency phone calls only? Will you use it for monitoring health through apps or for checking the weather report? Once you know what you’re using your cellphone for, it’s easier to decide on a smartphone vs a regular cellphone.
Step #2: Simplifying your smartphone for easy use
So a smartphone is a good option for you, now to use it properly! iPhones and Android phones have a unique way of doing things such as increasing text size for better readability, enlarging the keyboard, and configuring the lock screen. Ask a trusted family member or friend to help if you feel uncomfortable trying to make the changes yourself, or try these step-by-step instructions from businessinsider.com.
Step #3: Setting up security measures
First thing first: Make your cellphone password-protected! If your smartphone is biometric-enabled, definitely enable fingerprint or face recognition security passwords. That way, if you lose your phone, you have a great first line of defense.
Step #4: Familiarize yourself with cellphone safety precautions
Free wi-fi at the mall is great, but hackers know this too and will take advantage of your connection to gain entry into such things as credit card apps to steal your info—and money. So always do the important stuff, like online banking, at home.
This is also a good reminder to not store personal information like a social security number or passwords in Notes on your smartphone. If your phone does get stolen or hacked, this will put you at higher risk for identity theft.
Step #5: Beware of who’s calling, and what you’re downloading
Let it go to voicemail—If a number you don’t recognize is calling, don’t answer. And if you do, proceed with caution! Same goes for text: They might seem like the CRA, but chances are it’s a scammer looking for your personal info they can use to do harm. 92% of people aged 65+ use a cellphone, 61% of them smartphones, according to PewResearch.org. That is a huge number of potential victims who’ve moved away from landlines to cell phones.
Also, proceed with caution when it comes to downloading apps and how much information you share with the ones you do have. Ensure you’re downloading apps from a credible company.
This is all to say that smartphones can have their disadvantages, but not that they aren’t a great tool for staying connected with family and your community at large. Know your technological limits and don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust. Happy texting!