“Digital Drugs” for Seniors:  Is it really possible to Overdose?


In a word – YES.  For some people it’s easy to go crazy over digital technology.  Something new, something more advanced, something to talk to friends and colleagues about.

If you (or someone you love) gets a “rush” out of having to have the latest smartphone, tablet, television, or gadget you might want to have “the talk.”

Hardware “drugs”:

Quite frankly it is almost impossible to keep up with the annual (or more often) cycle of technological hardware and software updates.  It’s getting harder now that manufacturers are adapting a “lease” based scenario – where the consumer gets a new smartphone (for example) every year.  What do the manufacturers do with the “old” device? Trust me that there are plenty of world-wide secondary markets and third world developing markets that are more than happy to purchase your last years device.

This phenomenon also takes place in other markets.  Automobiles for example.  New look, new features, new safety equipment, gotta have it!  A well organized and implemented “lease” program provides a good used car marketplace.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the owner of any new car dealership – who makes the most gross profit per vehicle – new or used?  If he/she is honest the correct answer is that the used car is the most profitable.

Software “fixes”:

In the mobile technology marketplace both Android “Droid” and Apple “IOS” software is inexpensive to begin with, and in the majority of cases FREE to update to the latest and greatest software version loaded with new features and bug fixes.

Is this a bad thing? No.  We all want more features that “do” more things.  And we certainly want all “bugs” to be eliminated.  But since software “feeds” hardware it becomes a way of forcing us to buy new hardware (since the old hardware may not support the new software features) from time to time.

Standing on the “soapbox”:

Here’s how this applies to Seniors.  First, a lot of Seniors will tell you that their mobile smartphone, smart watch, e-reader or tablet is an “extention” of their brain.  Something that remembers, looks up or gives them confidence in what they are doing (email, reading maps, checking financials, et cetra).  Second, for most Seniors we live on a fixed income so that axiom of what the large print (software) gives to us, the small print (hardware) takes away – because of the continuing cost.

Bottom line:

Everything in moderation.  As a successful tech “geezer” I love new “tech stuff.”  I try to do my reading, research, and rationalization (the 3R’s) carefully and thoughtfully. Obviously all of the “below” does not apply to me – since I need new stuff to help all of you with.

For most Seniors the following hardware purchasing cycle should work well:

  • New smartphones: every 2-3 years (look for major changes to the camera, screen resolution, system RAM, amount of on-board file storage)
  • New e-reader or tablet: every 3-4 years (same as for smart phones)
  • New smart watch: every 2-3 years (since this is a fairly new market the hardware will advance quickly)
  • New flat-panel television: every 5 – 7 years (4K or 5K screen resolution, always price drops)

For most Seniors the following software upgrade and updates cycle will work:

  • Rule #1 – when your software producer says there is a new upgrade/update – wait 7-10 days to allow for “an update to the update.”
  • Rule #2 – most Android and Apple “App Store” updates are free or very low cost.  Updates are almost always a good thing.  New features, security improvements and bug fixes.

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