Some people may name a medical device or implant, such as a hearing aid, an artificial joint, or a pacemaker. Others may say they couldn’t live without their electric bikes, GPS devices, tablets, or food processors. A surprisingly small percentage of older Americans are likely to put their smartphones at the top of the list because just over one-half of folks who are 50 and older own smartphones.
When it comes to smartphones, older Americans are a bit behind the curve. According to a 2016 AARP survey, just 55 percent of the 50-and-over crowd own smartphones. Of course, ownership varies by age cohort. About two-thirds of 50- to 59-year-olds have smartphones. The percentages are far lower for older Americans. Fifty-four percent of 60- to 69-year-olds own smartphones and just 29 percent of those over age 70.1
Here’s an important fact: Baby Boomers who own and use smartphones like them. In 2015, Pew Research revealed the vast majority of the 50-and-older group found smartphones were liberating and helped them connect with the world.2 With the right apps (software programs for your smartphone), smartphones can help people:
- Keep up with friends and family through email and social media
- Listen to music, read books, watch movies, or play games
- Surf the Internet
- Budget and manage finances
- Get directions and monitor traffic
- Take and share pictures
- Follow current news and events
- Track appointments and remember to take meds
- Find fitness, medical, and other information quickly and easily
- Take and save notes on topics of interest
Of course, smartphone users should employ basic safety measures to keep their data (including emails, texts, friends’ contact information, pictures, and other personal information) safe from prying eyes. It’s a good idea to choose a code, password, or biometric option to lock your phone and install recovery software so you can find a lost phone.
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