Smartphones are making news, and a lot of seniors are being left behind.
With the recent release of a major new survey showing that for the first time, the majority of Americans are using a smartphone, along with a new focus on the effects of smartphones on people’s daily lives, there’s an inescapable sense that this mobile technology is changing the world and anyone who is not part of the revolution is lost.
But do seniors need smartphones – or are they wasted on us?
Smartphones Are It
New stats released last week by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which regularly takes our national pulse via massive surveys, show that for the very first time, more American’s have smartphones than “dumbphones” – and only nine percent of the US population has no cellphone at all.
Today, 56 percent of American adults use a smartphone, compared with only 35 percent just two years ago.
Here’s what that looks like
Feeling left out?
Relax. If you’re 65 or over, you’re in company – 82 percent of American seniors are still using dumbphones. Among people 55 to 64, that number goes down to 61 percent – still a majority.
Not surprisingly, money plays a big role in whether you have a smartphone or not; monthly data plans are costly.
From the Pew again:
If you’re 65-plus and make more than $75,000, you’re five times more likely to have a smartphone than if you made less than $30,000.
Then again, among young Americans on tight budgets, 77 percent have smartphones. For some of them the phone doubles as a computer, saving the cost of a desktop or laptop along with the monthly wireless connection fee.
Smartphones Have Their Issues…
Eight-one percent of all 25- to 34-year-olds have smartphones and are on them 24/7. And the wired generation is just starting to see they have a problem.
One tech writer recently mourned his loss of engagement with the world: While visiting an art museum with his wife, he realized that although he was surrounded by paintings by great masters like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, he was spending his time staring at his phone. And late last month this short video by a young actress and writer, Charlene deGuzman, went viral and was featured on Fox News.
Are Smartphones Wasted on Seniors?
We oldsters are less likely to be tethered to our devices the way our kids or grandkids are; our old-school sense of etiquette was formed pre-Google, pre-Facebook, pre-immediate satisfaction.
A July 2013 stat from Business Insider
More than 80 percent of people age 40 to 60 indicated that it is unacceptable to check Facebook on your phone while you’re eating dinner with a friend; only 45 percent 0f 18- to 29-year-olds agreed.
Which either means that older Americans should be the ones using smartphones (we can keep our habit under control) or that smartphones are lost on us (who needs one? We can wait until we get home to check Facebook). What’s your view?
I kept up with developments in cell phones and was even very excited when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone but cannot justify one in my life. I’m stickin’ with my bumb phone. Oh yeah, I’m 69. Go figure . . .
I would like to take a course at Senior Planet
on how to use smart phone. I do not own
one but they are lending Iphones for an
upcoming course. Would like one on
Smart Phones after which I would probably purchase one.
Because there are so many different types of smartphones we’re not currently offering a smartphone class. We do teach iPads, which would help with learning an iPhone, but iPad classes are unfortunately all full at the moment.
Please keep your eye on our weekly calendar email. We will probably have a presentation about smartphones in the future, which might be helpful to you. It’s a popular request – and although we can’t teach a formal class we will do our best to have a seminar about smartphones soon. Thanks for writing! Kimberly