9 Technology Faux Pas Everyone Over 50 Should Avoid (To Embrace The Age Of Smartphones & Texting)

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smartphone technology

Here's how to stay digitally savvy.

When I went to college I felt estranged from my parents.

The only way we could communicate was with a landline, which I had to stand in line to use. Now that I'm over 50, I can shoot texts back and forth with my son, with links to interesting news bits, YouTube videos, music, or pictures of the cats doing dumb things while looking cute. Texting has brought us closer, due to its sheer convenience.

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I get that you want to do things your own way, perhaps what you consider the "right" way — such as calling vs. texting your kids. I completely understand. But there are some anachronisms in the twenty-first century that are just plain annoying, even to a technology dinosaur like me. Making them will affect your relationships and work life, and ultimately, prevent effective communication with those you care about.

Pretty please, heed my advice and avoid these 9 twenty-first century technology faux pas:

1. Don't leave voicemails.

If you don't know this by now, here's the thing: No one under 35 listens to the voicemail. And if you do get a callback, don't expect the person to know what your message said because, and I hate to be redundant, no one listens to voicemail. Texting works better.

2. Email with caution.

I'm not sure what the age cut off is on this, but some people only read their personal email accounts every leap year, if that often. So send a text instead. If that's beyond you, it's probably time to learn. This is how the world works now.

3. Don't text a landline.

If you are brave enough to dabble in texting, don't text a landline. Yes, there are still a few. Old geezers have them and professional offices (like mine) also have them. That's why you didn't get a response — you texted an old school phone without texting capabilities.

4. Don't call or text repeatedly

If you must call, please, do not call repeatedly. Yes, they got your call. Occasionally, people are too busy to respond immediately. Give it a rest. And try not to double-text either. Your message was received — now just isn't a good time for them to respond. 

5. Save snail mail for special occasions only.

Snail mail should be for wedding invitations and W2s — that's it. Stop sending things to your college student child, grandchild, niece, etc. They don't check their mailboxes.

If you must, alert them with a text to check their box for something from you — if they think it's probably food or money, they will check it.

6. Don't expect handwritten "thank you" notes.

Really, don't expect anything in writing. Not even wedding present thank you's. Most people communicate via email and text, so they may simply text you instead of sending a letter. At best, you'll get an e-card.


7. Use digital gift registries.

With weddings, new babies, showers and so on, unless you're giving money, get people what they want — not some random thing you think they want. It's not rude to simply pick a gift off the online registry. They had registries back in the day, too; they just weren't online.

8. Don't buy paper maps ever again.

Use your GPS. It's on your phone. It's not hard, and it saves trees. Plus, it updates your route in case of heavy traffic or if you accidentally veer off course.

No smartphone? Print out directions then. It uses less paper than those bloody maps you can never fold properly. 

9. Get a smartphone ASAP.

Come on. Join the party. My father is 94 and reads on his Kindle (with the added benefit of being able to make the print super-big). Having a smartphone is a modern convenience, just like having indoor plumbing or a toilet that flushes.

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Judith Tutin, Phd, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and youth to your life.