Mom goes from a flip phone to a smartphone

Tak Sato's mom with her new iPhone. Photo by Tak Sato

When I was visiting my family this past December, my wife suggested upgrading my mom's flip phone. Just like in the U.S., Japanese cellular service providers are sunsetting the "3G" (third generation mobile communication standard/protocol) in 2023.

Since she enjoys FaceTime (Apple's video chat app) with us every morning using a hand-me-down Apple iPad, finding a smartphone to replace her flip phone was rather trivial after all things considered. I followed the same methodologies/curriculum I had developed, born from my career experiences, for Center for Aging in the Digital World's "Digital Literacy Series" classes offered free to seniors since 2016, to teach my Mom the use of her new smartphone.

First, to select a smartphone for my mom, this two-year-old article – – still rings true when it comes to the importance of "appropriateness" of a personal technology device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer to your use case. I quickly arrived at the conclusion that an Apple iPhone SE 3rd generation would be the most appropriate for her "basic" use case.

Second, when the iPhone was charged up, I hid many of the pre-installed icons that populated each screen to avoid overwhelming her. This article – – even older at seven years, is still very relevant today. I also know it's relevant because time and time again I receive feedback from seniors in the nonprofit's "Discover Digital Literacy!" classes that the sea of icons is intimidating.

Six weeks went by quickly but with repetition, practice and me answering her questions, she was introducing apps she was curious about at her own pace. For example, she likes watching Asian dramas on Amazon Prime Video app on her iPad and she found out that she can now watch it also on her iPhone on the go.

If she can do it, I know you can too!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation. Please visit EmpowerSeniors.Org for more information!

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Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 8:56 AM, 02.21.2023