12 Tips For Teaching Your Grandparents How To Use A Smartphone

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Some seniors are missing out on the usefulness and convenience of smartphones. And you may want to teach your elderly loved ones how handy this device can be. So here are 12 tips for teaching your grandparents how to use a smartphone that you may use as your guide.

Teach Grandparents How To Use Smartphone

Some seniors are missing out on the usefulness and convenience of smartphones. And you may want to teach your elderly loved ones how handy this device can be. So here are 12 tips for teaching your grandparents how to use a smartphone that you may use as your guide.

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A smartphone is an excellent device for seniors. It can help them stay connected with the world and their friends.

However, many seniors don’t know how to use a smartphone. Some even fear them because they don’t understand how helpful they can be.

Use this guide to teach your grandparents how to use a smartphone in 12 easy steps.

How to Teach Seniors and the Elderly How to Use a Smartphone: General Advice

Older adults learn differently than you and your friends do. So, you’ll need to adjust your teaching style.

  • Be patient with them as they learn how to use the phone.
  • Consistently demonstrate the task, don’t just tell them how to do it.
  • Have them repeat the task until they feel comfortable doing it.
  • Break up the tasks into smaller steps.
  • Finally, don’t try to teach them everything in one day. They will retain more with multiple sessions.

Now that you know a bit more about teaching them, let’s look at what you should teach them.

12 Important Functions to Teach Seniors About Smartphones

You and your friends probably take many of these cell phone functions for granted. But, these may be completely new ideas to older adults. But, it’s important for seniors to learn ways to use their smartphones that make their life easier.

Here are some of the most essential tasks that seniors and the elderly should learn how to do on their new smartphones.

1. How to Set Up the Phone and Change Settings: The Basics

First and foremost, you must make sure that they understand the basics of using a phone. For instance, make sure they know how to turn the smartphone on and off and adjust the volume. Be sure that they know how to answer a call and end it once they are finished.

Other vital basics to teach your older loved one include charging their phone, how often to charge it, choosing a ringer they can hear well (and that they like), and navigating the phone’s menus. Explain what the icons on the screen mean and what each of them does.

2. How to Add and Manage Contacts 

Next, you will want to help your loved one add contacts. This can be more difficult for them as they may not be as comfortable using computers or smartphones.

But, you can show them how to use the phone’s search function to find their friends and acquaintances and then add them by entering their contact information. Explain how this will make it easier to call their friends and loved ones or send messages.

Once they have added their contacts, it is crucial that you help them manage the information by setting up default phone numbers and email addresses for them, forwarding important messages to these addresses, and deleting unwanted messages. 

Also, set up emergency phone numbers and show them how to access them quickly in an emergency.

3. How to Set Up and Check Their Voicemail

One of the most critical functions of a smartphone is the voicemail function. You will want to help your loved one learn how to access their voicemail and answer any messages that may be waiting for them.

Make sure they know how to tell when they have new messages. Explain to them how to listen to their messages and then delete anything they do not want or need to hear again.

teach grandparents how to use smartphone internet
Having access to the internet will allow them to stay connected with family and friends.

4. How to Use the Internet

They need access to the internet to stay connected with family and friends.

There are a few simple steps that you can take to help your grandparents learn how to use the internet. First, show them how to open their browser and type in the website’s address that they want to visit.

Second, teach them how to use search engines like Google to find the information they are looking for. Now might be a good time to warn them that not every website on the internet is where they want to go.

Finally, teach them how to navigate websites using tabs or windows. Show them what links and buttons are and how to use them to move around the web.

By taking these simple steps, your grandparents will be able to use the internet like a pro!

5. How to Send Emails and Text Messages

Next, show them how to use email and text messaging. This is probably one of the first things that your grandparents will want to figure out how to do!

First, don’t assume they understand the difference between text messages and emails. Explain and show them the differences.

The easiest way to set them up on email is just to have them sign up for an account with either Gmail or Facebook. Once they have an account, you can send them a link to set up their phone so that they can start using it.

For texting, show them how to use the texting app and how to know when they have a new text message. Show them how to read and reply to the message. Also, explain how to send a message to a new person from their contacts. They may not know how to start a new thread.

Finally, it is essential to keep a close eye on your grandparents’ email and text messages. If they ever get a message that they don’t recognize, be sure to help them figure out if they can trust the message or not.

6. How to Use Google Maps and GPS Navigation

Google Maps is a very useful app, so your loved one must be able to use it. Have them show you how to enter an address or directions and how to find restaurants, businesses, parks, and other destinations in their vicinity by using Google Maps.

Additionally, be sure they know how to turn on GPS navigation and use it to get around.

7. How to Use the App Store

One of the best ways to teach your grandparents how to use a smartphone is to get them started with the App Store. This is where they can find all of the different apps they need to use their phone effectively. Plus, it’s an excellent way to learn more about new technology.

Show them how to check app reviews before downloading an app. They need to make sure the app has positive reviews to know it’s safe to download.

Discuss in-app purchases for premium apps and understand the implications of making these purchases. Explain that many apps are initially free but may charge them for additional features once they start using the app.

For most apps, advise them to only download apps from their phone’s dedicated app store for safety. They can check with you first about any apps outside their app store.

teach grandparents how to use smartphone play games
There are many games available in the app store for your grandparents to enjoy.

8. How to Play Games

Help your parents or grandparents find a game in the app store that they will enjoy playing. Some great games for seniors include hidden object games, matching games, and puzzle games.

Make sure to give them helpful instructions on how to play it. This includes telling them where to look for the objects or clues in the game and telling them when they should make choices to progress the story or solve puzzles.

Be sure to keep a close eye on your grandparents’ progress in the game. If they are having difficulty, offer to help them out and give them some tips on overcoming the obstacles.

9. How to Use Camera Functions

One of the best things that you can do for your grandparents is to teach them how to use the camera functions on their phones. This can allow them to easily take and share photos and videos with friends and family members.

Plus, they will be able to capture memories that they will never forget and look at any time they like.

Show them how to take a photo and how to adjust the settings on the camera. Explain where images are stored on the smartphone and how they can access them.

Demonstrate how to switch between photos and videos. Don’t forget to tell them that videos will take up much of their phone’s memory, so don’t go crazy with them!

As a fun exercise, help them to find the first photo or video they took on their phone and have them share it with a friend or family member.

10. How to Set Up Social Media Apps

One of the best things you can do for your grandparents is to teach them how to use social media apps on their phone. This will allow them to stay connected with friends and family members, share photos and videos, and learn about new products and services.

Tell your grandparents how to sign in to their social media accounts and how to post updates and photos. Show them how to use the app’s different features, such as commenting on posts, liking posts, or sharing articles or videos.

Explain how to find their friends and loved ones on the services. Facebook is usually an excellent place to start.

Make sure they know that using social media can be addictive, so be sure to set boundaries for them! Also, make sure they understand that anything they post online is visible to others!

Finally, be prepared for some minor embarrassment. They will make comments on your pictures that you may not appreciate!

teach grandparents how to use smartphone personal info
Make sure to keep your elderly loved one’s personal information safe on their device.

11. How to Keep Their Personal Information Safe

One of the best ways that you can help your grandparents learn how to use a smartphone is by assisting them in staying organized and keeping their phones safe.

This means teaching them how to use folders, password protection, and other security features on their device. This will help them keep their information safe from thieves and other unwanted individuals.

Other tips to protect their identity and personal information:

  • Keep login credentials safe by encrypting them using a password protection solution like FaceLock or File Vault (available at the Apple App Store).
  • Avoid revealing too much information when filling out online forms or registering for services. For example, don’t list your full name, address, birthdate, etc.
  • Do not provide personal information (like your Social Security number) in any unsolicited communication. Be suspicious and contact the company or individual requesting the information to verify that it is legitimate.
  • Always use a strong password and keep it updated. Don’t share your password with anyone, and don’t use easily guessed words like “password” or “123456”.
  • Don’t forget to sign out of all your accounts when you’re finished using them. This will help protect your privacy and security settings.

12. How to Keep Themselves—And Their Phone—Safe

There are many ways to keep yourself safe when using a smartphone. Here are nine tips all older adults should know:

  • Use a protective case or screen protector.
  • Keep your phone away from water and other liquids.
  • Don’t leave your phone unattended in a public place.
  • Don’t text and drive!
  • Use the phone responsibly, especially when making decisions about spending money or downloading apps.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking into busy intersections or crowds without first looking up from your phone.
  • Know the dangers of internet addiction, and don’t let your children use devices excessively while you’re not around to supervise them properly (or at all).
  • Lockdown your device with a passcode, facial recognition, or pattern lock if you’re not using it and you don’t want others to access your data.
  • If they experience any problems with their smartphone, tell them to reach out to you for help.

Conclusion

In conclusion, smartphone use is a valuable part of modern life. An easy to use smartphone can be an excellent tool for seniors. By teaching your older loved ones how to use this helpful tool, you can ensure that they have access to the information, communication, and entertainment they want.

However, as with all things, some risks and precautions should be taken to stay safe online. Be sure to review the safety advice provided in this article and remind them that you are available for help should they need it.

Photo of author

Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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