Things to consider when purchasing mobile phones for elderly relatives for Christmas

Published: 20 November 2020

Assistance, administration, communication: according to a recent, representative survey, as a result of the coronavirus, the demand for mobile communication requiring data traffic beyond telephoning and text messaging has increased in the sixty-plus age group. However, the 2G and 3G phones mostly used by older generations are not always adequate for serving such new demands, so when purchasing devices for the elderly in Black Friday sales or when shopping for Christmas one should consider choosing 4G or even 5G devices that offer more highly developed technology and smoother internet connection - according to the reminder of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority.

Making conscious consumer choices are particularly appropriate at the end of the year, when mobile phones are purchased in a great numbers, first in Black Friday sales and during the Christmas shopping period. The older generations typically take the advice of their children and grandchildren in such matters, who simply wave off the question by assuming that grandma “only uses her phone for calls”. However, the coronavirus has fundamentally changed our day-to-day lives. The particularly vulnerable elderly generations are forced to stay at home permanently. The internet can provide the perfect means for easing their forced lockdown: they can use the worldwide web to keep in touch with loved ones and friends.

The pandemic has also accelerated the digitalisation of the elderly

Due to the pandemic, members of the generation of grandparents are increasingly realising the opportunities offered by digital communication, as not only does this allow them to talk to their grandchildren and friends, but also to visually contact them, for example, via video-chat. The vast majority are using mobile phones for this purpose. The results of a survey commissioned by the NMHH amongst 35-59-year-olds who had regular contact with their parents showed that 82 percent of grandmothers and 78 percent of grandfathers have mobile phones, yet only 12 percent of elderly women and 14 percent of elderly men can handle the functions of a smartphone on their own. However, during the first wave of COVID-19, the high risk sixty-plus age group conducted activities with increasing frequency that required data traffic. “The members of the older generation are become increasingly skilled in making video calls, for example, when they are unable to attend family gatherings (52%) or when someone has travelled far from their family (50%). One-fifth (22%) even make video calls when they are simply having a bad day and feel like talking about everyday happenings” said Károly Karl, head of the NMHH Communications Management Department.

It is now clear that smartphones will also play a key role in facilitating communication during the festive period. “With the use of appropriate applications, one can quickly and easily ask for help in trouble or take care of important issues and most impotantly, keep in touch with the outside world in times when meeting in person is not recommended or is expressly undesired,” noted Károly Karl. He added: “the previously popular 2G and 3G phones – which became widespread due to their favourable price and ease of use – are not always capable of serving demands beyond the basic functions. It’s worth choosing smartphones that can provide a long-term solution for users, both in relation to their reliability and the technology used (4G and 5G)”.

NMHH’s 10 recommendations – included in the attachment or available by clicking on the link – facilitate the mobile phone purchases of consumers, whilst the NMHH calculator can help identify the right customised mobile service package, as all of the current mobile operators offer solutions at an affordable price where the data used by popular messaging, audio and video chat applications does not count as data traffic.