Hello to my fellow Casual Capitalists! The following is an amazing guest article by Ted Carr, owner of the Retirement Journeys blog and podcast. For all our Digital Boomers, I highly recommend Ted’s resources. As you will see, he has a lot of insight, and you can find much more over at his website.
When it comes to technology we have choices: what to adopt, when and at what cost – or whether to adopt at all. Take Smartphones for example. According to a Pew Research 2015 report, here’s the percent of people who own a Smartphone by age category.
- 18 – 29: 85%
- 30 – 49: 79%
- 50 – 64: 54%
- 65 & over: 27%
It appears that the older you are, the less likely you are to own a Smartphone. An obvious reason is that as people get older they fall behind technology which makes using a Smartphone a daunting proposition. A less obvious reason is that some people choose not to own one even though they are capable. While I respect their right to choose and even empathize with their reasons, I still find myself wondering whether they have a realistic, practical sense of the benefits of owning a Smartphone.
That said, our mission at Retirement Journeys is not to tell anyone what they should do. Instead, we share experience to inform and inspire their decisions. With that in mind, here are my top 6 reasons for why I love my iPhone.
- Mobility and functionality. Being able to carry around one device that provides many functions is the number one reason to own a Smartphone. Wherever I go I take the internet (search, websites and services); apps; games; digital camera; video recorder; cell phone; GPS; music; email; texting; calculator; voice recorder; calendar and clock. I think this is amazing!
- Google Maps. I no longer have to write down directions, refer to a paper map or rely on my sense of direction (thank goodness). This saves me time, gas and keeps me safer. I use Google Maps locally and when visiting an unfamiliar city where I find it indispensable. For example, my wife and I decided to check out Grand Falls which is in Navajo land in North East Arizona. Our phone was able to direct us through a maze of dirt roads using its GPS capability only (because there was no cell service). That was impressive!
- MyRadar app. My wife and I love this app especially during Arizona’s summer Monsoon season. MyRadar shows storm activity (size, intensity and movement) across the country in near real-time. We can tell when we’re about to get hit by a big storm which gives us time to make sure everything outside is secured. The app has also come in handy while driving. When we see signs of a storm we can check out how big and strong it is and whether it will intersect our route. This gives us time to take whatever precautions we deem prudent.
- In case of an emergency. Granted you can use a cell phone to dial 911 or reach AAA. A Smartphone also enables you to text or email many people, take high-quality photos and video.
- Stay socially engaged. There are many physical and mental health benefits to being social as we age. Check out these links for more information.
Smartphones provide many ways to stay socially engaged including sharing photos, reading and posting on Facebook, using sharing economy apps, email and texting.
- Entertainment. Here a just a few of the ways that I enjoy my Smartphone: listen to music; watch TV; listen to podcasts (Retirement Journeys); surf the web; and play games (I like Scrabble). This comes in handy if you have some time to kill or want to multi-task. I can watch a baseball game on my iPhone while we watch a recorded TV show on the DVR. This is huge for me (and my wife)! I want to mention another handy app here – Sound Hound. Have you ever been out, heard a song and wondered what it was? That just happened to me when we were having a beer at the Wicked Weed in Asheville NC. I liked the song that was playing but didn’t know who the artist was. So I opened up Sound Hound and it told me what the song was (Wakin on a Pretty Day) and who was performing it (Kurt Vile). When we got home I bought the song. Pretty cool!
So if you don’t own a Smartphone (or have one that you’re not using) because you’re not up on the technology but are open to having one and to learning, here are some ways to get started.
- Ask a friend or the family “techie”. Have them show you the basics and take some notes. Ask them to set up the phone (configure) to make it easy for you to use (keep it simple). Be sure to have them show you how the help function works. Take notes and practice, practice, practice.
- Check with your local library and senior centers to see what classes they offer.
- AARP TEK – tablets and phones
- Senior Net Learning Centers featuring seniors teaching seniors.
- Oasis Connections Technology
- Go back to the store where the phone was purchased and ask questions.
- If you know how to use YouTube you can find “how to” videos that cover the basics and features of your Smartphone.
There’s one last point I want to make. Knowing how to use a Smartphone helps debunk the negative stereotypes associated with aging and it truly helps you stay young at heart.
Ted Carr – Retirement Journeys