Older generation slow to adopt smartphones


We all live increasingly with our smartphones, computers and other gadgets. In the US, where more than 171 million people (71%) own a smartphone, they have become the staple of every day life and the device of choice for anyone that wants to catch up on their emails, check their social networks, or simply send a Tweet about a sports result.

Smartphone adoption by age

Smartphone Adoption by Age USA

In the US at least, millennials are one of the largest population segments, and these young consumers are the largest segment of smartphone owners. Last year, more than 85% of millennials between 18 and 24 owned devices and 86% aged 25 to 45 owned them.

It seems that age still plays a role in the ownership of so-called ‘smart’ devices, as shown in the above chart by Nielson. Unsurprisingly, people over 65 represent the lowest adoption rate for smartphones, at just 46.3%, as of 2014.

Smartphones “too complicated”…?

In my personal experience, most of the older people I know still don’t use a smartphone, citing that they are not interested, or that they are ‘too complicated’ to use. However, this isn’t necessarily the case, and there’s often a misconception about technology being hard to use and not user-friendly. In a recent example, a friend of mine who owns a basic Nokia phone (decidedly, not a smartphone) lost the device. He says he is not interested in a smartphone and prefers to use a mobile for calls (remember them?) and texts only – which is fair enough.

Smartphones Old People

That is *not* funny!

However, upon losing his phone, he found that he’d lost all of his contacts, that he’d had for more than 10 years. The simple solution here would have been to have bought a cheap smartphone (an Android one, probably) and sign into Google, which stores all your contacts. On losing the phone, all he would have had to have done would have been to buy a new one and sign back into Google, and his contacts would magically reappear. So, wouldn’t it be better if he owned a smartphone?

Smartphone benefits

Likewise, anyone with a basic ‘feature phone’ can’t rely on a quick check of a map when going somewhere unfamiliar – again, a smartphone and Google Maps (or Apple Maps, or any other maps service), would allow those people to get where they are going more easily. There’s really no excuse for not having a smartphone these days. Of course, there are plenty of younger people who also refuse to buy a ‘smart’ phone, for reasons of privacy or preferring not to be interrupted all the time. Perhaps these people don’t realise they can turn their phones off, or use a ‘do not disturb’ mode.

Why stubbornly refuse to buy a smartphone one, because the benefits vastly outweigh any perceived drawbacks. If you’re one of those people that can’t see the point, try one for a week, and you’ll soon realise that once you have an all-singing, all-dancing phone, it’s pretty hard to go back to SMS messages and calls only as a way to keep in touch…


1 Comment

  1. Maybe the +65s figure they really do not have the need for them, or cannot justify the over priced handsets (especially Apple)? I am in my mid 70s and have a smart phone and have done for years but only for the convenience of being able to use as phone when away from home and as a “security blanket” when driving. I do not feel the need for all the other apps that are continually pushed out “because everyone is using them” (the herd instinct). And I do not need to watch movies on a silly little screen when I have a large screen TV to watch! Maybe us “oldies” are little more realistic than the bling people!