Learning

the word user on top of colorful triangles the word user on top of colorful triangles

 

I was going through old posts, removing some old ones since this blog is no longer used for my home care business. Rereading one got me thinking about how technology has the potential to improve our standard of living, while alienating some from that improvement at the same time.

The original post was from Dec 11, 2013. I was commenting how senior citizens often need help with routine activities, like grocery shopping. Now, we have an app for that! We can shop at home and have groceries delivered. I can see the benefit to the elderly. However, the drawback is that many seniors I know still shy away from using technology. Or, increasingly, they are using computing technology, but not very well.

I’ve been able to help several seniors use their various devices, but most of them still don’t understand the basics of getting around a smartphone or computer. What’s worse is that software updates can affect so much in the design and functionality, that even I feel like I have to relearn some of the programs I’m already using frequently.

the word user on top of colorful triangles

I’m curious as to why software and hardware developers don’t keep consistency in mind when making changes. If they did, they would see a whole new flood of buyers that are now shying away because “it’s too confusing” or  “it only worked for a little while”. The manufacturers and developers lose out on revenue and a significant portion of the population misses out on life enhancing products and services.

I see whole technology educational programs that center around “User Experience Design” and “User Interface Design” (UX/UI) with the stated objectives being to make products and services more intuitive to use and making the experience more straightforward. I’m guessing once a student starts actually working on a project for an employer that they are encouraged to just focus on what drives a consumer to buy, buy, buy, and buy now, by manipulating emotions. Because I sure wouldn’t describe a lot of technology as intuitive and straightforward.

Just some thoughts 🙂


Sites visited while writing this article:

Difference between UX and UI design

Photo credit: asvensson on Visual hunt / CC BY

Update Feb 6, 2020: Virgin Mobile USA service has been discontinued. You may be able to continue using your existing phone with Boost Mobile instead. Also, Boost has no-contract plans and new phones available.


Phone service providers are (thankfully!) waking up to the fact that senior citizens want SIMPLE mobile phones! I have found a couple of services that offer phones that cater to seniors’ needs:

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/paylo-plans.jsp

After paying over $100/month for mobile phone service from AT&T for myself, my husband, and my father, I decided to look elsewhere. My husband and dad rarely made calls and I was always having “usage charges” (charges over my normal monthly fee for extra minutes, texting, etc).

Virgin Mobile provides NO CONTRACT phones for as little as $20/month. I was able to shop for the phones at nearby stores to find a phone with buttons that were large enough for my dad, and was able to buy a couple of smartphones (phones that come with extra feature for mobile internet use) from the Virgin Mobile website for myself and my husband.

My dad is on the Virgin Mobile Paylo plan. For $20/month he gets 400 minutes of talk time and a fairly simple phone that cost around $20. My husband and I pay $25/month each for 300 minutes and unlimited data (internet use) and text messaging.

Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network and I have found coverage to be reliable throughout central Florida, from Wedgefield to Groveland.

If you sign up online (or get someone to help you do that) you can avoid an activation fee for the service! You have 30 days to try any phone you buy.

http://www.consumercellular.com/Info/SeniorFriendlyPhones

I do not have personal experience with Consumer Cellular, but found an ad for them in a magazine. They offer a senior phone (a phone with larger buttons and better volume), with plans starting as little as $10/month and the phone itself costing $60. If you are an AARP member, you can get a discount, also.

However, that $10/month fee does not include ANY minutes. You have to pay .25/minutes for talk time. This plan is good for someone who only wants a phone for emergencies. Other plans are available, too, but I didn’t see anything that matches the plan I have with Virgin Mobile. The AARP discount and the phone itself may make this service the best choice for you though.

If you are an AARP member, you have either 45 days or 45 minutes (whichever comes first) of phone use to try the phone and service for no obligation. (Otherwise, you have 30 days or 30 minutes, whichever comes first).

A $35 activation fee applies also.

Comment or use my contact page if you’d like help with choosing a mobile phone service! I know it can be so frustrating to find a service, figure out how to use a new phone, etc., so I’m happy to help.

 

More and more I see computers being used in the homes of senior citizens. The most tech savvy senior I know is over 90 years of age. Her computer space looks like mission control, complete with a scanner, printer, extra-large monitor, and some other black boxes with blinking lights for high-speed internet service.

It’s wonderful! I love computing and wish more of my older family members would try them out. The internet is a great way to keep in touch with family members who live in another state, or even another country.

The most popular programs I use for keeping in touch are e-mail, social media sites like Facebook, and video chatting with Skype or Facetime.

What is your computer of choice? Desktop computer, laptop? Or, perhaps you prefer smaller mobile devices, such as Apple’s iPad or a netbook? What programs do you use the most?