Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to get access to everything the Internet has to offer, from news, videos and music, to e-books, streaming movies and TV shows and video calls to friends and family. For seniors, whether they are familiar with using a computer or new to it, the tablet version of a computer is often a great choice for online activity. Tablets are designed for ease of use and visibility.
Some benefits of a tablet for seniors include:
- Portability and light weight. Tablets are easy to use on your lap, on a table, even in bed and can easily be taken on outings and trips, and used outdoors. The display is designed for readability, and allows for zooming in or enlarging to make the viewing more comfortable.
- Versatility. The online or mobile software programs or applications (apps) that can run on a tablet allow the user to read newspapers and magazines, watch video clips and streaming video, take and share photographs, make video calls (often at no cost), write and send emails, play games, read e-books, hear audiobooks and surf the web. The tablet can be customized with just a few simple apps for entertainment and keeping in touch, or expanded with lots of options for more advanced and curious users.
- Ease of use. While there may be a learning curve with any new device, especially for people who are not tech-savvy, most tablets are designed with usability in mind, and may be less daunting than desktop or laptop computers. Instead of a keyboard and mouse, the tablet is operated by touching the screen with the fingers (or with an optional stylus that may help people with larger fingers or other difficulties). Screens on tablets are vivid, and most tablets come with options for enhancing the visual and audio output as needed. By tapping on icons and links onscreen, the user can navigate from, for instance, one news article to another, or select certain songs to listen to.
- Wide range of offerings. Apps allow users to access thousands of electronic books, play music of just about every type you can think of, listen to recorded books, from the classics to latest bestsellers, and more. This is because the tablet is connected to the internet, via Wi-Fi (wireless internet). In this way, the tablet can be “on the internet” in the same way that a mobile or wireless phone handset gets a signal without being plugged into anything.
- Exercise for the mind. With a tablet, seniors can play brain exercise games that some claim could play a role in keeping brains sharper.
- Friends and family connection. With a tablet, seniors can make video calls to others who have tablets or smart phones, and also make free or inexpensive internet phone calls to phone numbers in the US and abroad, making it easier to stay in touch with distant family members, grandchildren and friends. Video calls use the built-in camera in the tablet, so that the callers can both see and hear each other. In this way, a video call is the next best thing to a face-to-face visit, especially when grandkids are on the other end.
- Social media. Tablets provide quick access to all of the social media platforms, including Facebook, letting seniors participate, and follow the online sharing of family and friend networks. Reading and writing email and text messages is another great benefit of the tablet. For those who have difficulty using the touch keyboard, most tablets can be connected to optional keyboards that allow for normal typing, whether someone is posting an update on Facebook or for longer-form writing, such as memoirs.
There are many different tablets available, to suit many budgets. A good way to choose one is to do some online research beforehand, then visit a store that offers different options and try them out. Seniors should also consider selecting a tablet similar to those used by friends or family who will be able to help them as they learn the ins and outs of tablet use.