Closeup of woman texting on cell phone
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Older adults increasingly are adopting technology at rates on par with younger, tech-savvy cohorts. Now, unfortunately, they also may be adopting similar tech-related dependency issues. 

Excessive smartphone use is rising among all age groups, including older adults, according to new research from experts who are studying “problematic” screen addictions. 

Senior living and care operators, as well as families, should be careful to monitor residents’ screen time, as they are more susceptible to issues stemming from sedentary lifestyles or poor sleep quality, experts advised. The latter is a common concern about the effect of staring at LED-lighted screens right before bedtime. 

Approximately 12% of adults aged more than 65 years check their smartphone every 30 minutes, and 22% said that it is the first thing they look at upon waking, according to a published report. In addition, as many as 68% of adults aged 65 to 74 now own a smartphone, data show.

Although that information comes from a survey of older adults in Canada, US studies have delivered similar results, with a majority of older seniors — those aged more than 70 years — now using smartphones. 

Older adults now are spending an average of 300 hours a year on social media, and 25% spend more than one hour a day on platforms, the McKnight’s Tech Daily recently reported

Although social media or games may be mostly for entertainment or socialization, older adults and even caregivers are becoming increasingly reliant on apps designed to manage health issues, from medication alerts to telehealth check-ins. 

One further concerning aspect of those statistics is that most people, including older adults, significantly underreport their actual smartphone usage, experts noted. 

Some recommendations the researchers on problematic screen time suggested to curb smartphone use include muting notifications, lowering the display light and even keeping the phone in another room overnight, although that may be an unrealistic suggestion for senior living residents.