Is this really a choice_ (Leadbox)Several weeks ago we heard from a senior (citizen) asking for our advice.

Her children had discouraged her from buying a smartphone, saying that she couldn’t learn to use it.

REALLY?

Interesting, given that our client is a professional woman who wanted to use her smartphone to receive emails throughout the day and not just at her computer.

A smartphone would also allow her to take pictures and also use video conferencing to communicate with others.

So, what was that all about?

Why were they so adamant that their mother couldn’t learn to use a smartphone?

Do boomers and seniors use smartphones? Of course they do and for a wide variety of purposes.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study about smartphone use, while only 27% of Americans ages 65 and older have smartphones (and many more have mobile phones) those boomers and seniors with smartphones described their experience as liberating. That is, they appreciated the benefits of having a computer in their pocket.

There is no doubt that smartphone use among boomers and seniors is increasing.

Here is what your BoomerTECH Adventures’ guides, Jill, Chris, and Ed, told our BoomerTECH Adventures senior client. Should she buy a smartphone?

Suggestion #1: Given what you would like to do with a smartphone it sounds like the perfect purchase for you.  Not difficult to use a smartphone and I guarantee you will love it.

Although all of us are primarily iPhone and Apple users, we also are familiar with Android phones. You mentioned FaceTime as a videoconferencing system and that is available only on iPhone. If you have friends/clients/ family who also have iPhones or iPads or Apple computers you can communicate with them easily from FaceTime. It comes automatically loaded on an iPhone.

You can do the same thing through apps like Skype on Android phones, but it isn’t quite as seamless. Many of my friends and colleagues whom I communicate with regularly are on iPhones so FaceTime is very easy to use. Just like making a phone call.

Another advantage of a smartphone is having the ability to receive emails as you said, but also text messages that are even more instantaneous. Another good way to communicate with clients or family.

Of course the biggest advantage of a smartphone is that you are carrying a computer in your pocket/purse! It is handy, always on, and readily available.

While we still call it a phone…it is much more.

The iPhone 6S cameras are spectacular and take great photos and it is very easy to share photos right from your phone. Google Maps are a built-in GPS device and also give you instant information about restaurants, shopping, gas stations, or anything else you want to know about.

Another thing I like to do is listen to Podcasts on various topics. Another app tracks my daily movement so I know how active I’ve been or if I’ve been too sedentary. I don’t generally read books on my iPhone but I do read local papers and the New York Times online. Thus, several ways I use my iPhone.

Suggestion #2: I agree that upgrading to a smartphone is a good, and very do-able idea for seniors! I believe all of us (BoomerTECH Adventure Guides) qualify to receive senior discounts of various types. And, we all use smartphones just fine.

The important thing to keep in mind is that smartphones can be useful at many levels, and can easily replace or augment several organizational tools. Yes, you can make and answer phone calls (even three-way calling if you want to have a conference call!). You can also keep track of those calls, when they occurred, how long they lasted, with whom the call was made, and the number itself.

Similarly, the phone can be your calendar, even alerting you to upcoming appointments and events once, twice, or more times if you want, including notations about who, when, where, and other pertinent information. You can take notes, including scribbles, drawings, photos, and voice memos on your phone, and you can share them with your other contacts if they have email, computers, tablets, or smartphones.

The key is that, with a little bit of practice and support, you can decide just how smart you need your phone to be!

Suggestion #3: I work with people over 60 all the time with smartphones and tablets.  Younger folks are much too quick to dismiss the capabilities of their parents and grandparent with technology!

My advice—by all means get a smartphone.

Here are a few of the ways that I see folks our age using their phones:
• email                                                                            • getting directions
• texting (with grandchildren and clients)              • video conferencing (FaceTime and Skype)
• taking pictures                                                           • note taking—typing, taking images, writing with a stylus
• playing games, especially word games                 • calendars
• Facebook                                                                    • checking out restaurants with apps
• reading—newspapers, books, magazines

I have an iPhone—just upgraded to the new 6S. Love it—it’s faster and I play around with the camera features all the time. If your family members have iPhones then you definitely want one too so you can FaceTime and easily share photos and other documents.

Best Buy sells smartphones. I get mine at the the AT&T store.  You can get plans with unlimited data which you probably won’t need unless you are going to get rid of your land line and only use your phone for communications. I tend to buy the phone with the most memory (that I can afford) so that I won’t have issues with storing photos or watching video.

Bottom line…ignore your children’s advice.  They mean well, but just don’t appreciate the active life of the 21st century senior!

If you like this post, you’ll find these five “Little Known Tricks for Your iPhone” incredibly useful.

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