Tablets KO eReaders for Older Adults

eReaders became trendy among seniors as compact electronic reading tools, but tablets are poised to take over on the popular and residential front.


Older adults are part of a growing surge in tablets as reported by PewResearchCenter’s Tablet Ownership 2013. According to the report, tablet ownership has grown from 3% to 34% in three years. Although eReaders maintain a slight edge within the older population, that situation is about to change.

PewResearchCenter’s statistics show older adults increasingly going online to e-mail, search the Web, make purchases, bank, read news, and participate in social networking – Generations 2010. Online activity by seniors will create a demand for tablets.

Patric Welch, also known as Mr. Noobie, has assisted many older adults with computer and gadget problems as an educator and on his website,

He asks seniors, “Is reading books the only thing you want to do with this device?” Once they realize they can e-mail, play games, and build a reading library, they become convinced to choose tablets.

His observations contrast with analysts who predicted the dominance of E-readers for Older Adults.

According to Welch, the tablet satisfies up to 95% of the activities of seniors now utilized on computers. “Computers are losing relevance," he said. “Even a laptop is cumbersome to carry compared with a tablet.”

apps 2Tablets are easier for older adults than computers. Their start-up is automatic compared to the slower boot up speeds for computers. Tech-challenged seniors find tablets to be the most adaptable computing tools on the market.

Welch cites his parents: “It’s demanding for my mom and dad to boot up a computer, login, install virus software and backups,” he said. “It’s a real learning curve.”

Older adults can find difficulty in installing new software and navigating a computer. Touching apps on the surface of tablets is easy. Installation is effortless. The tablet takes away the fear of technology.

Tablets have proven to be effective platforms for designed therapeutic music in Alzheimer’s settings streaming spiritual and music audio programs to residents.

Tower of BabelAn app newcomer to the 55+ demographic is babbel, a language-learning device, from Markus Witte, Founder and CEO said the app goes deep into grammar courses and other language areas., from Berlin, Germany, offers 13 languages including English. Its top languages in the USA are Spanish and French. Other top-ranked learning languages are German, Italian and Portuguese.

Witte said doesn’t specifically target senior citizens, but the demographic still constitutes a large portion of its users. Often, older adults utilize the babbel app to refresh a previously-learned language or to train their brain, said Witte. “Language learning is one of the best approaches to staying mentally agile.”

He references his parents as examples of the capability of the babbel app. "My 80-year-old parents are power users.”

A few popular senior apps:

  • Skype
  • Crosswords
  • Luminosity - a brain games app
  • WebMD - for health information
  • Med Reminder - a medication tracker
  • Big Calculator
  • Dragon Dictation – transcribes verbal language into e-mail