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‘Hand Me Upping’ Mobile Phones Causes Stress and Anxiety For Elderly

Good intentions lead to confusion and frustration – #StopHandMeUpping

Brits are becoming a nation of Hand Me Uppers with one-in-five having previously gifted a used smartphone to an older person including their parents, grandparents, friends and neighbours. These kind acts do not always go well. Independent research released by emporia Telecom shows that this practice often causes huge amounts of unnecessary stress and anxiety for both the recipient and person gifting.

Hand Me Upping usually takes place when someone upgrades their existing mobile. This is where the crux of the problem starts – as it leaves many older folks with a device they do not understand and cannot use, based on out-of-date technology. The practice also causes stress for the donor as the study shows they often become a default support helpline.

Nearly half of all grandparents who received smartphones in this way state that it is very difficult to use and just one-in-ten find it easy. The findings clearly show that gifting old mobile technology does not always work as a whopping 90% of grandparents and 80% of parents rely on the giver to provide ongoing help and training.

Everyone in the 65+ age group found this experience stressful to a degree and the older people are, the more stressful they find it. Eight out of ten grandparents who received a phone in this way found it difficult to use, as did three quarters of all parents.

Chris Millington, UK and Ireland Managing Director at emporia Telecom comments on the growing issue: “The problem arises because mass-market mobile brands do not create products that address the specific needs of seniors. The retired audience use their phones less as they are relied upon to do other things like look after grandchildren.

On top of this, mobile tech evolves at lightning speed. As we upgrade, we learn new ways of doing things on our devices. In essence we forget how our old phone works as the menus and features change. It then becomes impossible to advise someone how to navigate an interface that you are no longer familiar with yourself. The recipient gets a device that is obsolete in terms of functionality, the apps it supports and is fast becoming alien territory to the donor.

This act of kindness often causes greater isolation rather than enabling digitisation. Older people can’t use these devices and the ramification for society is further widening the digital divide between the generations. It is far better to recycle, or trade-in a used smartphone and to consider a tailored product that is geared towards the needs and wants of the mature user.”

Handing up a previously used mobile to an older person is more prevalent amongst the younger generations with 41% of those aged 16-29 years having previously done so. People in their 30s and early 40s are the most caring age group, with over half of them (52%) having helped an elderly relative or friend get connected with a smartphone.

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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