Teaching Senior Family Members How To Use A Smartphone

It has been a breeze to teach my child how to use a smartphone. If I’m honest, I don’t think I have given them a proper lesson. One day, I’m helping them click the videos they want to watch on YouTube. The next day, they can already open my phone, find the app, and look for their favorite clips.

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However, the same cannot be said for my parents, who were both in their mid-60s. Out of all the things that they could want last Christmas, they asked for iPhones. Mom said, “My friends at the senior center were brandishing their new smartphones. Perhaps it’s not too late for us to get them, too.”

My sister supported the idea 100%, but I didn’t. She was only cool with it because she would go away once the holiday season was over. As for me, I would be left to teach our elderly parents how to use their iPhones. And I already knew it wouldn’t be easy.

Still, for the sake of my two favorite seniors in the world, I thought of how I teach them how to operate a smartphone.

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Set Up The Apps Accordingly

When the iPhones arrived, I let my parents took them out of their boxes and inspect the gadgets. They turned them up and down and side to side, reveling at how sleek and slim they looked. When they asked me to open the devices for them, I took the smartphones out of their grasps to set them up first.

I may have done things differently and merely guided them through the setup process, but my folks had no idea what to do. Even if they could see the screen options, they were too scared to mess up or, worse, break their iPhones.

Once the phones had been registered to Apple, I created two different folders on each gadget. One of them contained the apps for contacts, text messages, calls, alarms, gallery, camera, and other miscellaneous items. The other was filled with Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, FaceTime, and more “fun” applications.

Some might think that it was overkill, but taking this extra step meant that the elderly would only need to focus on two folders instead of flipping through different slides. That would have made my parents’ heads spin.

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Make Your Explanations As Simple As Possible

Since we got them the same model that I used, it was easy to hand the smartphones back to my parents as I held my device for proper presentation. After figuring out which hand was more comfortable holding the new gadget, I proceeded to teach them the basics. E.g., turning on the phone, finding a contact to text or call, and using FaceTime.

We spent an hour doing those three things, but I took that as a win. The lesson time shortened because I tried to explain everything in the simplest possible way. It could have taken us all day, primarily if I used all the technical terms.

On the second day of our iPhone 101, my folks wanted to learn how to play music and videos and take pictures, so that’s what we did. I also gave them a list of the apps found in separate folders to look for them on their own. On the same day, they managed to video chat with my sister and see and play their theme song via Spotify.

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Try Not To Get Frustrated When The Ask The Same Questions One Too Many Times

The thing I dreaded happened not too long after our first lesson. I came home from work and noticed that my parents’ car was parked at the curb. When I stepped into the living room, they greeted me quickly before telling me that neither could turn on their iPhone. So, I showed them how it’s done. Some days later, I found them waiting at home for me again. This time, they asked me to help them reply to a friend’s text message.

Did I feel frustrated? Of course! Mom and Dad bombarded me with similar questions in the next few weeks. Sometimes, they would even call our landline phone in the middle of the night to ask how to do this or that, as if we had never gone over it before.

Despite that, I never expressed my frustration with my parents. I figured that getting mad at them for something this small could make them feel bad and rejected. Thus, I created a detailed booklet for them, complete with the images on their screen when they clicked the right things. It seemed to help because the calls I received significantly reduced after that.

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Final Thoughts

Elderly parents want to feel like a sense of belonging in a world where everyone’s nose is almost touching the screens of various gadgets. If your folks want to learn how to use a smartphone, there’s no valid reason for you not to do it. After all, giving them a crash course to iPhone usage is nothing compared to everything they have done in your favor while you’re growing up.

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