The advent of the smartphone has undeniably introduced ease and greater accessibility in day-to-day tasks that once took much more time and energy. Learning how to navigate and understand your new smartphone can be a challenge for even the savviest of tech lovers. The learning curve can feel even more difficult for older adults, especially if you haven’t used a computer in years or have stuck to a trusty flip phone for the past decade. However, overcoming the mild frustrations that often accompany learning how to use any new technological device can help put you on a road towards increased independence. With a smartphone in hand, you can:
Here’s a look at some tips to help you become more acquainted and comfortable with your new phone.
As with any new undertaking, it’s essential to learn the basics of your new phone before diving into its more complex functions and advanced uses. Take your time getting comfortable with texting, calling and accessing the internet before trying to use your GPS and download new apps and games.
Blurry vision and small screens aren’t a good mix and will only make navigating your phone harder than it needs to be. You can easily eliminate this problem by accessing your phone’s Settings menu, where you can adjust your display and expand font sizes.
If you hit a wall in the process of learning your new technology, don’t be too proud to bring someone else in to help — especially if that person is from a younger generation (i.e., millennials or Gen Z). Letting your children or grandchildren walk you through the more complicated aspects of using a smartphone can help you break down learning barriers and be a fun, heartwarming activity.
Program the phone numbers of the friends and relatives you frequently call or text into your contacts and become familiarized with your phone’s voice assistant. By doing this, you can make keeping in touch with your loved ones even more convenient by speech-dictating text messages and simple verbal commands such as, “Call Elizabeth.” On top of this, learning video chat apps such as FaceTime or Skype makes keeping in touch with grandkids even easier.
Whether your new phone is an Apple or Android product, it will come with a built-in app store stocked with millions of apps, books, games and more for you to peruse and download. Some are free; some are not. Take your time familiarizing yourself with the functions your phone already has — camera, calculator, calendar, memo/voice recorder, etc. — and narrow down your remaining needs to find the right apps. Do you love listening to music as you wake up in the morning? Check out apps like Spotify and Pandora. Want to stay connected with loved ones on social media? Look into Facebook and Messenger.
Take great care to write down your passwords and keep them in an easy-to-find spot. Additionally, beware of scams that target people through text, email or social media. AARP has an extensive fraud information center that highlights reported scams and offers a toll-free reporting line at 877-908-3360.
Once you really get the use of your smartphone down, it will be tempting to give that landline the boot. However, keeping two avenues of communication open may be useful in an emergency situation. Unlike smartphones, a landline is far less likely to drop calls and can immediately pinpoint your location in the event of needing law enforcement or an ambulance.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t learn how to use your new smartphone in a day either. Stay calm and patient and take your time as you familiarize yourself with its technology and functions. And, perhaps above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At Cambridge Court, our caretakers would be more than happy to help you use and understand your new tech, whether that's a smartphone or a new tablet.
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