Seniors and Smartphone Safety

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Smartphones are a great gift for most people and especially that special older adult in your life. Many older adults who move into a long-term care setting often come with a cell phone with limited features. Many still have a flip phone with buttons that are hard to press with arthritic digits or small screens that make reading difficult on older eyes.

Upgrading to a smartphone that can connect to the internet and can download applications can make staying connected to friends and family so much easier. Of course there is a downside, text messaging scams and identity theft.

Here are a few suggestions to consider before buying a new phone for a senior this holiday season.

Senior Friendly Smartphones

There are a large number of smartphones dedicated to being senior friendly. Here is a list of the ​Top 25 Smartphones for Seniors​ rated by

If you are still stumped after perusing the top 25, here are two phones to consider.

● Jitterbug Smart 2: ​This smartphone is simple to use and ​developed for seniors​. Some of the features include a large 5.5” screen, voice typing, front facing speaker, built in 13MP camera with flash and 5 star urgent response button that can summon emergency help when needed..

● Apple iPhone: ​Apple has several versions of their popular phone, so you do not need the latest version. Apple phones are fairly easy to learn and have a large screen which is easier on older eyes. Of course, the Facetime capability is a great way for a senior to keep in touch with his or her family and friends.

Remember there will be a monthly service plan fee to consider when deciding on which phone and service will meet your expectations. Also, some cell phone service is limited in some areas and reception is not always optimal.

Safety and Smartphones: What a senior needs to know

Unfortunately, there are a few potential safety concerns that you should explain to your loved one so they do not fall victim to some of the following:

1. Text message scams:​ Remind them not to respond to or open a text message from a number they do not recognize. They should beware any text message that claims they have won a contest, prize or lottery.

2. Password protect your phone: ​If the phone is lost or stolen, a thief can access the contact list, your personal account data and any identifying information quickly. Setting up password protection is the safe thing to do.

3. Public Wi-Fi: ​Using free internet access is fine as long as you do not access personal accounts. Wait until you are home on a secure site to conduct important business.

4. Do not store personal information: ​As tempting as it is to store personal information as typed notes or pictures taken, it is best to avoid doing this. Any apps used for medical or personal information storage should be downloaded from a credible source or company.

5. The phone is a mini computer: ​We do so many things with our smartphones that we also do on our personal computers. Your phone has valuable data on it, so it is important to protect it.

Smartphones are fun, convenient and a source of endless possibilities for communicating with loved ones. Ignoring a few safety measures could turn the fun into a nightmare of trouble. Hackers are expanding their illicit talents and everyone is at risk. Stay informed on how to protect yourself from the potential harm of theft of your personal information and be vigilant when using your smartphone.