Does Grandpa Have a Smartphone? It Could be His Key to Independence

A new study reveals that seniors with cellphones use them differently, but love them more than younger users. Here are the details.

Grandpa and Grandma need a smartphone, at least if they want to feel connected and liberated.

That’s according to a new report from Pew Research, which reveals that most senior citizens think owning a smartphone represents freedom.

Asked if they feel that their phone represents “freedom” or “a leash,” 82 percent of smartphone-owning seniors described their phone as freeing, compared with 64 percent of those ages 18 to 29. By contrast, 36 percent of adult smartphone owners under the age of 30 described their phone as a leash, double the 18 percent of adults ages 65 and older who chose this term to describe their phone.

Interestingly, seniors were also more likely than their younger counterparts to describe their smartphone as connecting (81 percent vs. 63 percent).

Pew suggests that usage patterns likely play a role in how seniors and young adults view their phone. While younger adults often use their phone for a variety of purposes, including social networking and multimedia content, older adults typically use their smartphone for basic communication, like phone calls, texting and email.

“For young adults, smartphones are often the device through which they filter both the successes and annoyances of daily life – which could help explain why these users are more likely to report feeling emotions about their phone ranging from happy and grateful to frustrated or angry during a weeklong survey,” Pew said.

Still, despite the benefits of being connected and feeling liberated by a smartphone, just 27 percent of adults ages 65 and older have one. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, that percentage skyrockets to 85 percent.

My mom and my father-in-law both have an iPhone 6, and they love it. Meanwhile, my dad and mother-in-law have opted to stick with the old-school flip phone to stay connected. To each his own, I say.

Do the seniors in your life have a smartphone? Are you an older adult with a smartphone? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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