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How to make mobile devices friendly for seniors

Dic 16, 2020 | 42Gears Team

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

In recent years, smartphones and tablets have transformed the way people communicate. People are using mobile devices for activities such as ordering food, buying clothes, consulting doctors, performing banking transactions, and communicating with team members working remotely. However, senior citizens still find it difficult to use mobile devices.

In this article, we will discuss the possible challenges that senior citizens might be facing while using their mobile phones and the solutions that can make things easier for them. 

What are the challenges faced by elderly people while using mobile devices?

  1. Devices require fine motor skills: Elderly people 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 especially pose a bigger 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: 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. In addition, they don’t feel that their bank details are safe online. It is challenging to adopt something that you don’t understand.
  4. Cultural associations connect youth and smart devices: Most device advertisements target the young population, which often leaves seniors with the impression that devices are a millennial trend. This psychological barrier discourages elderly people from giving this technology a fair try, which, in turn, incentivizes device manufacturers to focus further on pleasing younger users.

How to make mobile devices more comfortable for elderly people?

Mobile devices and tablets can substantially improve the quality of life of senior citizens. From being able to connect with friends and family, to coordinating deliveries, a little tech literacy goes a long way toward making senior citizens 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 are most often used in offices and schools, they can be very helpful for seniors as well. In particular, options such as 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 such as SureMDM by 42Gears, 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 that they have support available should they ever 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, you should still make sure that you prevent the user from 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.

Simplify and secure senior-owned tablets with SureMDM and SureLock


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