An intro to smartphones and e-readers for seniors

Mobility (the ability to be moved freely and easily) is a characteristic of many popular digital technologies used abundantly today. The idea is simple; digital gadgets are more useful when you can take them with you. We are no longer confined by the limitations of traditional “location-based” technologies, like desktop computers. Their size and weight take up too much space. Not to mention, you can only benefit from using a desktop computer when you are near it. Mobile technologies, such as Smart Phones and E-Readers, can go with us anywhere. They are small, lightweight, and full of functionality and convenience.

Smart Phones, such as iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, are far more than just cell phones. They are designed to be multi-purpose, and have a seemingly unlimited number of uses. Regardless of the Smart Phone you choose, there are a few functions you’ll find in every model. With the telephone function, you can store all your loved ones contact information in one place, no need for an address book. It has built in voicemail, which allows you to receive messages from your missed calls when you’re on the go. There is even a hands free mode, that allows you to use headphones or the built in speaker instead of holding the phone up to your ear… which is now required when driving in many areas.

Smart Phones can also connect to the Internet, so you can check email and search Google when you’re out and about. This can be helpful when you need to refer to your email to get an address, or if you need to do some quick research on a medication someone recommended. Whatever you can do on your home Internet connection, you can now do on a Smart Phone too. The Internet connection on a Smart Phone is called 3G. In some places, 4G Internet is available, which is faster. Smart Phones can also connect to the Internet using WIFI (wireless Internet), so you can get online while walking around your retirement community.

Another convenient function of all Smart Phones is the built in picture and video camera. You can take digital pictures and videos of what you’re doing and who you’re with, so you can reminisce about the memories later. With the built in 3G Internet connection, you can even share the images you capture on Facebook and Email! And for those who enjoy music, Smart Phones can also play your MP3s, so you can keep hundreds of songs with you to the gym or out in the garden. Talk about neat stuff… and all from a device you carry in your pocket.

Like Smart Phones, E-Readers are a mobile technology with many conveniences, specifically designed for people who love to read. E-Readers, such as Kobo and Kindle, are able to store hundreds of books at one time, allowing you to keep virtually your entire library in your hand bag. The lightweight design of E-Readers make them comfortable to use and the text size displayed on the screen can be adjusted to a large size for those who like it better that way. Some E-Readers are back lit, which means the screen has a built in light. You can read a back lit E-Reader in a dark room. E-Readers that are not back lit must be used with the lights on.

Also similar to Smart Phones, E-Readers can access the Internet using WIFI and 3G, depending on the model. This makes email and Google searching possible on an E-Reader too. But, not all E-Readers can do this, so be sure to investigate if this is a function you want.
There are many classic ebooks, such as Little Women, and Tom and Huck that are “public domain”, which means they are free to download and read. Once you have an E-Reader, between free books available online and a few visits to your local library website, you’ll have access to all the books you can handle.

It’s important to take advantage of mobile technologies because of the opportunities they create. Smart Phones and E-Readers are a great way to get started using technology, regardless of your past experiences. With a little practice, any curious senior can get high-tech in no time.