Are smartphones for people of all ages? An easy-to-use guide for seniors

Image | Quinn Dombrowski

Many people have ceased to avoid and instead embraced the use of technology as, over time, it has gone from being “something that only young people know how to do” to a solution easily employed by people of all ages. It is, thus, more and more common to see seniors using devices that years back seemed to be almost the exclusive province of younger generations. The same is true when it comes to smartphones, devices not only for making calls, but that also come with a wide range of features.

The Fundación Vodafone España, in conjunction with Mobile World Capital Barcelona and the Spanish Geriatrics and Gerontology Association has published a guide packed with valuable tips allowing older people to learn to use smartphones. Turning on a mobile phone, understanding each of the icons that appear on the screen, learning to organize them, and to download applications from Google Play are some of the things this guide covers in a very instructive manner throughout.

Clarifying concepts: the PIN and the PUK

For many seniors concepts like a SIM card, PIN and PUK are major hurdles to them using a smartphone or any other mobile phone. When turning on a telephone the first thing you must do is to punch in your PIN code, a secret 4-digit number required so that nobody else can use the device. A common problem among older people is that they forget this number. When they introduce an incorrect code three times their SIM card is blocked, and they are required to type in their PUK code. This number is usually on the same card as the PIN, which is why it is recommended to keep it in a safe place so that, in case you forget your PIN, you can quickly verify your PUK. By introducing this eight-digit code the SIM card is unblocked and the telephone works again.

How to save numbers in your list of contacts

No more asking the grandkids to put new numbers into your contacts list. By following the simple steps in this guide anyone will be able to perform this process without a problem. The list is usually accessed by hitting a head icon. After pressing this symbol, look for another one with a plus sign (+). Then just fill out the form with the information you want to add, remembering that it is not a problem if some fields are left empty. At the very end it is important to press Save before leaving the screen to keep the data added from being lost.

Are smartphones for people of all ages? An easy-to-use guide for seniors

Image | Manual de uso fácil

Writing text messages: first steps

Most mobile service providers today include a very economical pack of text messages, a perfect complement to messaging applications that require use of the Internet. Messages are usually accessed via an envelope icon on the main screen. Pressing the little envelope brings up a list of messages, both received and sent, and another icon that looks like an empty sheet of paper. Touching this icon lightly takes you to a screen to send messages. Now just pick a contact from your list and fill out the large space with the message you want to send. The touchscreen keyboard appears when you tap the space. Then it’s as easy as pressing Send and the text is transmitted almost instantly.

Lights, camera… action! Learning to take photos and videos

Above we have looked at features not very different from those on traditional mobile telephones. One of the advantages of smartphones over simpler models is the quality of their cameras, a feature that has become indispensable for millions of users. Older people can easily learn to take pictures and videos by pressing the camera icon appearing on the main screen. Spinning the camera around to take a selfie, using the flash and the photo editor are other options available on all smartphones that are worth learning how to use.

What smartphones are best known for, of course, is their capacity to download applications that make daily life easier. The guide published by the Fundación Vodafone España explains in detail how to connect to the Internet and, once online, how to access the Android store, Google Play, to download applications.

Finally, the guide lists a series of apps recommended for older people, grouped by function: browsers, tools, transportation, games, public services, health, reading and even social networks.

Thanks to the Fundación Vodafone España, seniors can now be more connected than ever before. By following just a few usage guidelines their mobiles can become essential tools for them too.