Should Granny and Grandad Master their Smartphone?

Granny should use her Smartphone

My smartphone is just for emergencies.
I don’t need all that techno stuff.
Why do I need it now when I’ve lived all my life without it?

Sound familiar? Or perhaps you feel this way  ...

Why is everyone always obsessed with their Smartphone ... unable to put it down even?


Seems a fair question. Maybe I can go someway to answering it.

For a start, a smartphone is probably one the most amazing pieces of human ingenuity … ever. Better even than 'sliced bread'! It contains equivalent processing power to what took buildings of computer equipment to create, just a few decades ago. That little device you can hold so comfortably in your hand, has the computational power that would make a computer scientist’s hair stand on end in the 80’s. (Remember ‘Doc’ from Back to the Future? He would’ve loved it!)

But why do I need all the computer power now if I’ve never had it? It’s making people’s brains go to mush. Now, in my day we had mental arithmetic. That made your brain work for a living!

Ha ha, of course it did. Nothing wrong with that. Keep up the practise. But … to really challenge your brain you need to learn something new. And your Smartphone could well prove worthwhile if you can appreciate how it might enhance your life. Here's a few ideas that might get you thinking.

Reason 1:  Getting forgetful?

Granny and Smartphone

In spite of all that mental arithmetic training, we all become a little forgetful as we age. What do we need help with?

- Remembering birthdays (there’s a lot more to remember these days: grandchildren, great grandchildren)
- doctor’s appointments
- taking those all-important pills
- when to go to the toilet … well maybe not that … yet, hopefully

Each Smartphone has a suite of ‘apps’ (an abbreviation for application) that can help you remember. For example:

  • Love writing lists? The Notes app can keep all your lists in the one spot … jobs to do, presents to buy.
  • Calendar app is a diary for all your appointments and special occasions. Notifications will automatically remind you … in plenty of time.
  • There is a reminder app which can literally be used for anything. 
  • You can even use the Timer app to remember to turn off the hose, or take the scones out of the oven.

As long as you have your Smartphone in your hand and you know how to use it, you have all the tools you need to never forget anything important again.

Reason 2:  Help with navigation

Smartphone usage

One thing that shocked me when my Mum moved into her senior years was, she had trouble navigating. She got lost driving to my place one day and I’d been living there for ten years!

All smart phones come with a GPS (Global Positioning System) and a Navigation app. This means your phone knows exactly where you are on planet Earth. It can help you find other places and it even means your loved ones can find you!

Cool huh!

You never have to feel lost again and that awful feeling of vulnerability that comes with it. When Mum finally arrived at my place that day, she was really distressed. It was a turning point in her life. Now all the technology I needed to help her back then has converged into one little magic package … your Smartphone, and you can hold it in your hand!

You enter the address where you want to go, a few seconds processing, and the navigation system will propose the fastest route for you. You will see clearly on the map where to go. Not only that, it will talk to you … tell you when to turn. It will direct you right to the door and say “Arrived!”

Not convinced yet?

Reason 3: Pursuing your favourite hobby

Granny using Smartphone

We all have passions and interests. I love playing bridge, fitness, movies, sewing. Well the beauty of the technology in your Smartphone, is that it enables you to connect with others who share your interests! You can share ideas, pick up new tips and tricks, what movie to watch. Heck, you can even watch a movie on your Smartphone! Okay, I know, your eyesight isn’t that good these days, so watching a movie on a hand-held screen isn’t going to get you too excited.

But what about all your favourite music? The music of your era; that you danced to back in the day? It’s all there, at the click of a button on your Smartphone ... hours of nostalgic listening pleasure.

Pinterest is wonderful for the hobbyist. You 'pin' links to a Pinterest 'board' - your favourite recipes, patchwork patterns, holiday destinations ... or whatever you're 'interested' in. It's easy to find them again as they are stored all in the one spot.

Goodreads is perfect for the book worm. You can capture the titles of recommended books. You can read what others thought of a book, find recommendations. Imagine being able to connect with your favourite author.

You just need a bit of help to learn how to do it and your teacher needs to be patient, calm and considerate. If you're game, your Smartphone is a gateway to a simmering stew of exciting possibilities guaranteed to enhance and enrich your life.

Reason 4: Chatting to loved ones near and far

Granny Smartphone

My daughter lives in Dubai. But despite her living thousands of miles away, we are in constant contact. We are able to text each other regularly and share photos and videos of events as they unfold. I might not be able to sit face-to-face over a coffee as often as I would like, but, being in regular contact is fantastic and the option to use video apps such as FaceTime is the next best thing. Now you can talk to your loved ones face-to-face on screen, not just hear their voice on the end of the line. You can see where they live, what they are doing, explore projects they’ve been involved in.

My Smartphone enables me to share my life with my daughter day-to-day in a way that would not have been possible in the past.

Our children’s generation and more particularly, their children, have been born into this technological world. They are competent navigators, digital natives. We won’t be able to compete with them, I’m not proposing that. But I would like to propose that learning to use some of the apps on your Smartphone, can bring those far away a LOT closer, on a daily basis.

To me, this is the most enriching opportunity of all. I know for myself, that stepping out of the workforce was somewhat socially challenging. It closed many connections that I had taken for granted up until then. Having the capability to strengthen the relationships within my own family dynamic is really important as I move into my senior years.

Your Smartphone is a gateway to building and strengthening those connections. Imagine connecting with your grandchildren directly, not just through their parents.

And guess what … you can hold it in your hand.

Reason 4: Learning is vital for our health

Granny Smartphone

Does using your phone make your head hurt?

Learning is tough. It literally hurts the head. Why? Because new neural connections are being formed. Neural plasticity, they call it, which is really just a fancy way of saying you are learning something new. And it’s difficult to argue that learning doesn’t come with some discomfort at times. It’s part of the deal.

But learning is vital for our growth, health and vitality. And it doesn’t matter what age we are, we are never too young or too old to learn. In fact, research has shown that learning is actually necessary for brain health. The best way to avoid dementia and other brain degrading conditions is to keep learning. And it’s not just about trying a new puzzle. The greater the learning challenge, the greater the brain health benefit.

A new world to discover

Granny Smartphone

First you need to be convinced of the value your Smartphone can bring to your life. Maybe I've helped make some sort of a shift in your thinking. I hope so. Once you do, you can take the brave step ... decide it’s time to open Pandora’s box. It's time to come to grips with something you’ve possibly pushed away because it seemed too hard. Sometimes, when we are afraid of something, we tell ourselves stories; we make up all manner of reasons why we should avoid confronting that fear.

The only thing standing in the way of you taking advantage of these opportunities, is your fear of learning something new. Take a deep breath, dive in. Ask your son, daughter, grandchild for help. Find a way. Press through the frustrations, stimulate those ageing neurons. Put them to work!

I can guarantee you will be glad you did. I’ve only given you a glimpse, the tip of the iceberg.

If you're interested in some private coaching I'd be happy to chat. Perhaps you can think of some other reasons why you should or shouldn't become more intimate with your Smartphone. I'd love to hear about them below. I've only touched on a few.

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