Older people in a Smartphone Society

Last week, UK regulatory body Ofcom found that smartphone use in the UK has overtaken laptops for the first time, becoming the number one way people browse the internet. With a third (33%) of people opting to use smartphones over laptops (30%) for their online usage, we are now officially living in a ‘Smartphone Society’.

But as the World Wide Web becomes more accessible, and new smartphone technology and updates are being introduced seemingly constantly, the question arises: what does a smartphone society mean for the older generation?

While we know not all pensioners are technophobes, or even close to it, there’s no denying that later in life it can be difficult to stay up-to-date with all of the latest technological advances. Some will struggle to read the small font present on smartphones such as the iPhone, and touch screen typing can take some real difficulty getting used to – not to mention confusing operating systems.

Embracing new technology later in life does have its benefits. Smartphones are a perfect way to keep in touch with family and friends, and as people eschew traditional means of communication (even including actual phone calls, ironically), apps and services such as Facebook and Skype can be the perfect way to keep in touch.

It’s not just communication we should think of when we consider smartphone usage these days, though. With more and more services moving online, technology at your fingertips can really benefit your lifestyle. You can do everything from managing your bank balance and paying your bills, to educating yourself. Most banks have a dedicated and secure smartphone app, and online tutorial videos (such as on Youtube) and other dedicated education apps mean it’s never too old to learn new skills; from a new language, to how to play an instrument, it’s all there for you.

One thing that can put people off smartphone technology is the security element. And while it’s true that all smartphones come with some element of security risk (like any internet-enabled device), for the most part they can be easily avoided; it’s worth reading up about phishing scams, particularly if you’ll be using Facebook and emails. As the government continues to warn us about pension scams following the introduction of the pension freedoms, we must be just as vigilant about our smartphone use as we would be when protecting ourselves from pension conmen.

When it comes to embracing technology, remember that it’s OK if you don’t understand how certain things work. When choosing a smartphone, ask for a demo in-store: if it’s too complicated, maybe that isn’t the right phone for you, but if you start to get the hang of it after 10 minutes or so, it may be worth persevering with. There are all sorts of guides and support available online, so if you get stuck, just ask!

While smartphone technology can seem daunting later in life – and while taking selfies may not be high on your list of priorities – it can benefit you in so many ways. As more and more services increase their online presence and usability, embracing the smartphone society is the route to take.

 Ryan Smith writes on behalf of Compare Annuity: an annuity calculator to get you the best annuity rate from your pension savings.

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