The easiest tech for staying connected with grandparents.

Staying connected is essential, but not always easy for the elderly.

a grandmother and granddaughter using a smart phone together

Wednesday, 30 September, 2020


‘Now more than ever’ and ‘in these uncertain times’ it’s important to stay connected because ‘This is the new normal’. If you’re sick of hearing these phrases over and over you’re not the only one! 

Now imagine hearing this all the time but not knowing how to stay connected. As a millennial, it’s hard enough to keep up with new apps and software for staying connected. ‘Zoombombing’ sounds like a made up phrase even to a 29 year old. I can’t imagine what it must be like for an 82 year old!

But it’s the elderly who are especially at risk of becoming even more isolated because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some scientists are now even linking earlier death with isolation and loneliness.

“Loneliness and isolation are damaging not just to physical health but also mental wellbeing. Simple to use technology enables seniors to enjoy a better quality of life through keeping connected with loved ones and the outside world”

- - Miles Waghorn CEO and founder of TechSilver.


So how can we help them? Well, experts are saying that tablets are the way forward. With bigger screens and a smoother interface than smartphones, they’re ideal for less confident users. They’re also ideal for users with poor eyesight!

Companies like TechSilver and Dixons are pioneering schemes with charities like Age UK to support elderly users. They’re offering training to give older people digital skills for staying connected.

TechSilver also produce large button keyboards and tools to help make tech more accessible for the elderly. So it might be worth checking out these initiatives to help older family members.

“Covid-19 is a threat to everyone, but to older people above all, to their mental as well as physical health. Many are very anxious at the prospect of being alone for a long time. We can’t allow that isolation to become any more difficult than it already is. Technology can keep friends and family connected, wherever they are, as well as keep us entertained, productive and healthy,”

- - Alex Baldock, CEO Dixons Carphone

Some simple gadgets to help you stay connected with older relatives:

Grandpad £329.95 (monthly payment plan available) – Yes, you read that right; Grandpad *insert crying emoji here*. The Grandpad is the first tablet designed for older users. It has easy to navigate, custom apps to make everything as simple as possible. Most apps are designed with digital natives in mind. Grandpad strips it back to basics, by removing the assumption that users know even the basics. It lets the user do the essentials: messages, calls, video calls, news, weather, email and online searching. It even has an ‘auto answer’ function, which lets the Grandpad autoanswer phonecalls from trusted family members. It’s even designed for ease of use for those with arthritis. The price might seem steep but this is because it also boasts included unlimited 4G, music streaming and 24 hour tech support!

Amazon Fire 7 Tablet | 7 inch display, 16 GB – £49.99 – Many older people have already been introduced to the Kindle for reading. The Amazon Fire allows e-reading as well as apps for email and browsing. This might be a good option for the older user with a bit of experience. Amazon

Facebook Portal ‘Smart Display’ – from £79 – This isn’t a tablet, despite the way it looks. The Facebook portal is what is being described as a ‘smart display’. It’s a voice activated (using Amazon’s Alexa) and allows you to make voice and video calls. The ‘smart display’ also offers features that allow you to watch TV together and send WhatsApp messages. Facebook

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 32GB 10.1 inch – £159 – The Samsung Galaxy A tablet is the perfect tablet for easily storing hundreds of family photos. It’s also perfect for making family video chats a regular thing – with a front facing camera and easy navigation. The device has 32GB of storage so it can store a lot of photos, but you can also add a memory card to bump storage up to 512GB. So you could even load it with films and TV shows for your loved one to watch! John Lewis

Natalie Dunning author picture


Natalie Dunning is a freelance writer and Media Psychology researcher based in Manchester.