Most grandchildren are familiar with the struggle of showing their grandparents how to do a Google search, explaining how a text message would be much easier than mailing a letter to Joanne from unit 24B, or explaining that WhatsApp isn’t a greeting used by “the youngsters of today”.
Introducing your 85-year-old grandmother to her first smartphone won’t be a walk in the park either, especially if she’s content with her current phone because it allows her to “just do the basics”, like make phone calls and check the time. Grandma, we get it, social media can be a drag, but there are loads of benefits a smartphone can bring to your elderly parent or grandparent’s life that are worth it. Plus, there are plenty of entry-level smartphones and tablets on the market that offer the basic smartphone features your grandparent will need without all the confusing bells and whistles.
Thankfully, there’s a way to help make smartphones less intimidating and more intuitive for grandparents. By tweaking some settings and exercising a little (okay, a lot) of patience, you can help make these devices more user friendly and enjoyable for grandma and grandpa.
In the end, it’s about making digital opportunities accessible to more South Africans, including the elderly, from the comfort of their homes. Says Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing for Vuma. “Not understanding technology shouldn’t be a barrier to accessing the opportunities available online, especially when there are so many ways to teach the basics of using a smart device to our grandparents or even the elderly neighbours next door.”
Whether it’s video calling family, getting a recipe, or playing Words with Friends, here are a few easy ways to help your grandparents become smarter with their smartphones:
Increase the font and app icon size
When it comes to making tweaks to your grandparent’s smartphone it’s best to start small. Sight tends to worsen with age, so try to make it easier for your grandparents to navigate their new device by increasing the sizes of the font, app icon, and keyboard to a readable level. You can do this in both iOS and Android settings menus. This small adjustment will make it easier for them to read information, type messages, and consume content without straining their eyes or requiring a new glasses prescription.
Enable find my device
Next set them up for success by ensuring they’ll always have their device on hand. We all lose our phones from time to time, and chances are a grandparent or elderly neighbour will too. It’s one thing, however, to leave it lying around somewhere in the house, but it can become a nightmare when it’s forgotten in a public space or gets stolen. By enabling features like Find My iPhone on an iOS device or activating Android’s Find My Device, you’ll be able to locate that new smart device more easily if it gets stolen or even lost under a seat cushion.
Download grandparent-friendly apps
Using a device that can download countless app is an entirely new concept for the older generation. Thankfully, you can download some grandparent-friendly apps that can help them stay connected to friends and family, manage their medication, or even play a game of Words with Friends.
Connect their device to fast, high-speed fibre internet
After you’ve covered all the basics, you can help grandma or grandpa access the unlimited opportunities of fast, high-speed internet on their new device.
Start by connecting their device to uncapped fibre internet, so they won’t accidentally deplete their data. You can now set up a messaging and video calling app, like WhatsApp or Skype, to keep them in touch with friends and family near and far, or even search for recipes using YouTube or the device browser, instead of paging through countless recipe books.
You can also download a Netflix, DStv or Showmax app on their device if they enjoy sports, soaps, or a good action movie, so they can watch all their favourite content whenever they want, without worrying about data costs!
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