iPad mini: Bringing the elderly into the digital age

Summary:The elderly often find technology to be physically challenging to embrace. The iPad mini is changing that due to its small size that is light enough to be easy to handle.

Mom iPad 300
Mom with original iPad

Evelyn (not her real name) sits down at the table every morning with the one cup of coffee she permits herself daily. For years she would open the day's newspaper to catch up on current events. She admits that got harder to do as she got older and her body could no longer do some things as she did in the past.

Instead of the newspaper Evelyn now picks up her iPad mini, a gift from her son. She operates it with ease and because of the small size and light weight she marvels how she can hold it even for long periods with no issues.

She tells me the big iPad she had before was nice and she really liked it, but it was painful to hold for very long. It was just too heavy and the larger form made it uncomfortable to handle for very long. She had to put it down frequently to rest her hands, and that was frustrating.

The look on Evelyn's face is priceless, she is able to see the latest family addition in her little kitchen thousands of miles away.

That's not the case with the new iPad mini and it has become a major part of her day. She tells me she can read the local newspaper, send email to friends, and keep up with her family on Facebook. Due to the iPad mini Evelyn now uses Facebook constantly to keep up with her family spread far and wide. 

She delightfully shows me a new photo of her great-great-grandson posted just a short while ago. She brings it up with ease and swipes through a collection of new photos. The look on Evelyn's face is priceless, she is able to see the latest family addition in her little kitchen thousands of miles away.

See related: Lure of the tablet: No intimidation

What makes the iPad mini a great fit for the elderly is the comfortable form factor coupled with the simple interface. Evelyn and others like her can just pick up the iPad mini and do the things they want to do. The simple operating system instantly makes her feel at ease with the most advanced technology she has ever used. There is no intimidation as commonly felt with other computers. She just picks it up and uses it.

I suspect Evelyn is not unique in her need for a computer as small and light as a simple notepad. Many older folks I speak with are anxious to embrace technology as long as they can easily (and comfortably) handle it. It must be easy to use, too, and not require a lot of "fussing" to make it work.

Side view 300
ZAGG Mini 9 with iPad mini

After watching Evelyn slowly tap on the screen to send an email and update Facebook, I asked her if she ever wishes she had a keyboard to type them. She admitted that would be nice but would make it too hard for her to physically handle.

I pull the ZAGGkeys Mini 9 keyboard case out of my bag and show her how it works. She picks it up and once again I see a sparkle in her eyes. She types a Facebook update on the keyboard and actually laughs in delight. She excitedly exclaims how it props the iPad mini up making it even easier for her to use for a long time.

She asks me to tell her son about the Mini 9 with a smile on her face as big as Facebook.

See also:

Topics: iPad, Mobile OS

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.