How to make mobile devices friendly for seniors

Dec 16, 2020 | 42Gears Team

An elderly mobile device user uses a laptop at her desk, looking surprised about something.

In the last ten years, smartphones and tablets have transformed many aspects of everyday life, from checking the news to connecting with loved ones. Still, there are fewer seniors using mobile devices than might be expected.

Why is that? There are a few possible obstacles, as well as strategies for overcoming them. Let’s look at the challenges, followed by solutions.

Why do few seniors use mobile devices?

There are a few reasons this might be the case:

  1. Devices require fine motor skills: Elderly mobile device users may struggle to touch specific icons on a touchscreen. Those with Parkinson’s Disease, for instance, often select options by mistake because of hand tremors. Small on-screen keyboards pose an especially large challenge. This means that tasks which require typing and navigating multiple menus, such as choosing and downloading apps, will likely be too difficult.
  2. Device interfaces are mentally overwhelming: Seniors with memory issues will struggle to remember icons, usernames, passwords, URLs, and more. This will often result in seniors refusing to use devices, as they do not want to confront their declining mental state in this way.
  3. Seniors may fear what they don’t understand: It’s only natural for someone to want an understanding of how something works before trusting it. Modern smart devices are so complex that understanding how they work isn’t easy. Many seniors are not comfortable with online financial transactions for this reason, as they don’t feel that their bank details are safe online. It is difficult to adopt something that you don’t understand.
  4. Cultural associations connect youth and smart devices: Most device advertisements target the young, which often leaves seniors with the impression that devices are a millennial trend. This psychological barrier discourages elderly from giving this technology a fair try, which in turn, incentivizes device manufacturers to further focus on pleasing younger users.

How can elderly mobile device users become more comfortable with tech?

Tablets can substantially improve elderly mobile device users’ quality of life. From being able to connect with friends and family, to coordinating deliveries, a little tech literacy goes a long way toward seniors being happier and more independent.

Especially given that almost a billion people worldwide are sixty or older, there is a great need to find solutions to the challenges mentioned above. See some potential solutions that you can implement below:

  1. Promote the use of a stylus: A user with poor motor skills will benefit greatly from using a stylus. Styluses are typically inexpensive, costing less than 30 USD. Seniors do not need to worry about losing a stylus, as many styluses include a magnetic strip that attaches to the side of a smart device.
  2. Lock down tablets for a simple interface: Although device lockdown tools most often see use in offices and schools, they can be very helpful for seniors as well. In particular, options like SureMDM by 42Gears can restrict device interfaces to show only necessary apps. If seniors only want to use a handful of apps, locking down tablets to those apps can simplify the process of using tablets significantly.
  3. Offer remote troubleshooting to ease anxiety: Many seniors likely fear something going wrong on a device when there is no one around to help. If a device is enrolled in a mobile device management solution like SureMDM by 42Gears, however, an expert can remotely control any registered device at any time. The expert could be a service provider or a tech-savvy family member. This help can significantly reduce anxiety as seniors will know they have support available should they need it.
  4. Be encouraging and adaptive during the learning process: If you are teaching someone to use a tablet or other device, it can be very frustrating if the person forgets what you have already told them. However, it is important to avoid the user associating the device with negative experiences.

42Gears SureMDM can help seniors adopt modern mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones, thereby empowering them to gain more control over their lives and choices.

If you would like to learn more about SureMDM, please visit this link for a 30-day trial.

Simplify and secure senior-owned tablets with SureMDM and SureLock

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