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Helping an Older Relative to Use Their Smartphone

Collaborative Post

One of the great things about the technologically-driven age we now live in is that people who might otherwise be isolated have a means of staying in touch with those that matter to them.

The learning curve on many modern devices can sometimes be steep – but if there’s a younger, savvier relative to hand to explain everything, it’s easy to get on board with most of them. In the case of the smartphone, just a little bit of guidance can make a big difference.

If you’ve got an older relative whom you’d like to teach to use a smartphone, then it’s worth thinking about your approach before you get started.


Before getting started, it’s worth thinking about whether your relative really needs a phone. Explain to them the advantages, and that it will help them to stay in touch and see photographs and videos of what their relatives are doing. It doesn’t have to be public, either. You can do a lot of good with a small family WhatsApp group, especially if you’re posting photos every day.

Keep it simple

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you’re learning about how to use the latest apps. Make sure that you stick to what’s really necessary, and don’t overcomplicate things. Delete any apps that aren’t going to be used. You might get a SIM-only deal from a reputable supplier, and use an old handset to get them connected. NHS employees might do this affordably with the help of a Vodafone NHS discount.

Difficulties with Size

Certain older relatives might struggle to read the text on a standard smartphone screen. Teach yourself about the various accessibility options, and then teach your relative. If you want to keep things very intuitive, then voice commands might be the way to go.

Scam Calls

Online fraud is an ongoing problem. With the help of AI, it can be even worse. Tell your relatives to only trust calls from people who are in their phonebook, and to block spam numbers. Modern voice-replication technology means that fraudsters can clone your voice and use it to con your relatives. Be cautious!

If you’re thinking about technology in general, rather than just the smartphone in particular, then you might broaden your approach. Smart speakers and tablets have the advantages of being more approachable and intuitive, and so they might be considered feasible alternatives.


Image by pressfoto on Freepik

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