Cell Phones and Texting: A Guide for Seniors

Texting for Seniors

I used to be in awe of telephones. Not the slick modern ones. The old fashioned ones that required you to stick your finger in the circular hole of the number and glide your finger around to the number 0 in order to register just one digit. Yes, you would have to dial all SEVEN digits (not ten back then) in individual rotations.

I loved the sound that it made as each new digit was swung around in a circle like the sound of clock thinking aloud.

Tick.Tick.Tick.Tick… then ta-ta-ta-ta as it spun back to its original position.

You could hear the phone working. It was a thing of beauty. My grandmother’s phone was a nice mustard yellow color with a solid heavy weight to it. Every time it rang the whole house would vibrate inconsolably. The noise was deafening. I guess that was the point.

Today, we have tiny phones that squeak and vibrate at us every time a text is sent or when a new notification from a social site has just come in. Many seniors balk at the thought of sending a text message to their loved ones. After all, what can be texted can be phoned about.

Things used to be so prim and proper. You would tell someone that you would give them a call at a particular time and they would ensure no one else was using the phone at that same time. It’s a shame our kids will never know the true meaning of patience and waiting. This generation is all about instant communication and 24×7 availability.

If you’re an older adult newer to text messaging, here are some guidelines on navigating the texting world:

  1. You don’t have to have a reason to text. Sometimes just sending a quick “I’m thinking of you” text message will get your granddaughter or loved one to phone you up to express their excitement at receiving your text. I know if I saw a text from my grandma, the first thing I would do is phone her up and say, “Awesome job, grandma! I’m saving this text forever!” And I really would save it, because it priceless.
  2. There is no fixed deadline on responding to a text, though same day response is pretty much expected and if you wait longer than two days, people will think you dropped off the face of the earth.
  3. Many companies include unlimited texting plans. You can always increase or decrease your texting plan to accommodate your actual usage.
  4. Texting an address, a save-the-date, or phone number is a great way to create and save a memo on your phone for future reference.
  5. If you don’t particularly enjoy texting but do want to send messages, downloading an app like Voice Actions can help you dictate your voice into text making it that much easier to keep in contact with your loved ones.

I’m still waiting for the day that Grandma Flanders sends me a text. Until then, I’ll relish online media stories about centenarians navigating Facebook.

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