Senior Center

Smart Ways to Use Smartphones

By Jan Bolder - January 8, 2014

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Bit by bit, landlines are being worked out of existence in favor of smartphones. Although many boomers are loathe to trade in their reliable handsets for ones with confusing buttons and uses, figuring them out isn't so hard once you know which approach to take.

Increased Use: The 18-34 demographic may (still) be the largest users of smartphones, but boomers are rapidly catching up. One-third of people aged 55-64 now use a smartphone, a 109% increase from 2010-2011. What are they using it for? Well, everything youngsters are: video news, online dating, social networking, game-playing, and communication. But while baby boomers are very clearly not taking to smartphones at nearly the same rate as their younger counterparts, they aren't totally eschewing it either. It just takes them a little bit of time to warm up to the idea of suddenly trading into entirely new technology.

Taking Pictures: One of the features of a smartphone that simultaneously draws and repels boomers is the camera. It's not that they're strangers to photo-taking, but that the cameras on smartphones are far from what they're used to. There are fancy buttons to push, new ways of aligning the shot, complicated methods of viewing, sending and receiving photos, and quality that's not even half as good as a regular camera. But yet the desire to record moments in life is still there, and smartphones provide a quick, easy and inexpensive way of doing so.

Accessories: The landline phones from the '50s and '60s were great. They were solid, relatively unbreakable, easy to use, and hard to lose. But when smartphones came along, they entered boomers' lives with cracks and creaks as the new hardware wasn't always up to the same standards as the old stuff. Even something as simple as taking an incoming call was drastically different. Where before you only picked up the receiver and spoke, now you touch a screen and slide a bar, always making sure not to touch buttons on the side that'll instantly disconnect the call. And depending on the smartphone, the sound quality wasn't always there.

However, manufacturers have finally twigged on to the fact that boomers need certain devices and accessories to call in peace. Old-style handsets can now be plugged into the headphone jack for ease of use, phones can be plugged into docks so calls can be made and received more simply, and special speakers are available to amplify ringtones so calls are never missed.

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