Smart Phones

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Marc Hitchcock]

A common question of the 50+ folks is, “Why do I need a smartphone?” Clearly you don’t need one, but the device has uses compelling enough that you might be willing to endure the frustration of learning something new.

By far, Facebook tops the list. Seeing pictures of grandkids and movies of their activities has dragged many reluctantly into the new millennium. You can share the joys of your life to all your friends, your ‘social network,’ with just one submission viewable by everybody. And since you carry the phone with you, it is easy to turn it on and display photos, events, and stories.

Another big use is reading news. Bet you didn’t know the phone can actually read aloud to you. Or, that you can easily increase the size of the text by setting it bigger or zooming in to make it easier to see.

Perhaps my favorite feature is that the world’s knowledge is at my fingertips. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia beyond any you ever thumbed through. If you want to be hands-on, YouTube has videos on everything from gardening to surgery. Consumer Reports, and a million other sites, have reviews of anything you might want to purchase. Researching on TripAdvisor almost insures a trouble-free vacation.

Another popular use is gaming. There are a myriad of game and puzzle options. You can pursue solitary fun or compete head-to-head or in groups. Games are so popular at the Google Play Store, where you download phone ‘apps’ (special programs that run on your phone), that it has a separate heading for them.

So besides the learning curve, are there other downsides? Yes . . . and no.

Concern with Big Brother loss of privacy may be justified but has been unavoidable for years. Fears of hacking and financial loss are real. Avoid the risk by not letting sites save your credit card info, and not writing it down where others can see it. Scams abound and you need to be aware of the pitfalls.