Mobile phones are winning over life: it’s funny to look at how 60



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Leading demographer Bernard Salt has written an entertaining and rather derogatory column in the Australian this weekend professing the evilness of the mobile phone and its prolific users. His satire is laced with truth when he proclaims that the mobile phone is taking over the world but he has criticised the phone’s users in a way we don’t think is fair but can be turned a little funny and nostalgic. Our progressive over 60s here are incredible users of mobile phones and tablets and we think might you have something to say about the new ways versus the old. Let’s share some memories.

“The mobile phone has replaced the wristwatch, the alarm clock, the calculator, the bank teller, possibly the television and of course the landline. The mobile phone has conquered old technology and is weaselling its way into our emotional lives”.

“I have heard that some people, sad people admittedly, reach for their mobile phone before they reach for their partner in bed. I have heard that some people, needy people, check out their mobile phone before they get out of bed. I have heard that some people, emotionally disconnected people clearly, do not know their children’s phone number because it is committed to automatic dial in their mobile phone”.

More people than Mr Salt perhaps realises in fact might feel insulted by his statement above so we’ve decided to have some fun with it.

Mobile phones have become a critical and fulfilling tool for many, including older generations. Let’s consider the technologies that have failed to evolve at the pace the mobile phone has managed to in keeping on inching its way into our lives, even the lives of the over 60.


He says some lie in bed at night and look at their mobile phones when they would used to have been looking at their husbands. Have husbands failed to evolve? Or have mobile phones become more interesting? That offers a large question to wives everywhere.


We roll over in the morning and check Facebook and our alerts on the front of our phones. Why is that? Could it be that all our information and insight is compiled in one useful place instead of across several 12-hour-old newspapers that grace the footpath? I am not disappointed at the convenience. Are you? I no longer have to get cold or dewy feet on the trip to the front lawn.

Alarm clocks

My alarm clock on the side of my bed glows like the northern lights – so much so that I have turned it to face the wall. And it never ever is set to ring because the phone next to it much more reliable and easy to use. There used to be days when the power went off that my alarm failed, or that human error in setting the alarm caused severe distress. With my phone, I can set two alarms or three, minutes apart. And the ring is annoying enough to get me up.


My calculator is constantly stolen from my desk at work by needy people, leaving me to calculate using the only tool that is religiously by my side, my mobile phone… why wouldn’t I? It is not something my co-workers steal for fear of its relentless ring.

Bank tellers

When banks imposed $4 to visit a bank teller about five years ago, the immediate logic we all went with is that they didn’t want to see us, and they don’t! Our mobile phone is a much more hospitable companion. It doesn’t say no anywhere near as often as a bank teller would, nor as publicly.

The Landline

When the landline rings in my house we know it is one of two people. My mother in law or my mother. Even telemarketers have stopped calling on it. When I occasionally remember it is there, I wonder at why we keep it but find it hard to “cancel” a phone number I have had for 15 years… silly nostalgia?

An address book

Why would I commit a phone number to memory when I can set it to someone’s name and call them with one button? It seems crazy to use ones memory for these little things when we must treasure it for important facts like how big Mariah Carey’s engagement ring is.

The Yellow Pages.

To think, this company used to charge businesses thousands and thousands of dollars per year to print a book that sat under the phone telling you where to buy something near you and the bigger your ad, the more likely someone was to buy from you. No trust, community or ethics necessary because no-one can post a review. Just buy a big ad and you’re free. I’m not disappointed the world has changed.

The camera

I never managed to have a camera in my pocket when I needed one 15 years ago, and I was rarely in the photos I took nor shared them with others. Now I have a selfie at every event and my constant use of Facebook makes sure my family see them too. I’m not sure they want to – but it makes for fun entertainment.

The torch

We can never find a torch in our house when we need one. Whether looking in a sore ear, or finding the power box when the lights go out, you can be confident in your mobile phone being very close to your side at all times so you’ll never be in the dark again. I vaguely remember having candles in the drawer for blackouts… I don’t think I have even wondered where they are in the house for a few years.

What else has your mobile phone replaced? Go on… have some fun and tell us your stories?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Mobile awesome! My children were teenagers before mobile phones and I so wish they had had them! They keep us in touch with them and our grandchildren now they are interstate and overseas! 👍👍👍

  2. I am behind with technology. I have a flip phone and I am quite happy with that. My husband keeps threatening to buy me an iphone. I suppose one day I will have to get one. I don’t like them, I think they are too big.

    2 REPLY
    • Hi Debbie, I have just replied to Rod Faithfull above about my flip phone – I had some journey on it this month…. Well, I lived to tell the tale!

  3. I have a mobile phone-its a $49.00 basic phone. make a few calls and receive some. the phone was on the cheapest smelstra plan at $15.00 per month–then the cheapest plan moved to $20 and now $30-plus $3.60 to get a bill in the mail…think i have been ..bent over………………Richo.

    4 REPLY
    • Google Boost and see what is on offer. I’ve set mine up on line as an automatic payment. Works for me!

    • my partner uses Boost – for years she rolled over an ancient Optus account for like $10pm – she now pays $18 a month including some data – she doesn’t know how much but she seems happy with it.

      I avoid data – having seen students paying $70pm for ‘I don’t know’ how much data so they can send endless ‘FREE’ texts – hmmm.

      My Aldimobile prepaid call rate is 12c/min or 12c/sms – and has cost me a total of about $90 in the last 12 months.

      But most of my cost is our $50pm TPG home ADSL internet my partner and I use – I avoid the expensive calls to STD or mobile numbers, but calls to local numbers are 25c untimed, so if I’m calling a government organisation that make take 20 minutes, it’s cheaper than using my mobile, so I use that for such local calls only.

  4. I have a flip phone and have no desire for a smart phone. My little mobile serves me well for in and out calls and the occasional text message. Unlike many my life is not ruled by a bloody phone. It pisses me off that people find it absolutely necessary to respond every time their phone burps. How did people survive before we had mobile phones?

    7 REPLY
    • Hi Rod, I also have a little flip phone & use it once or twice a year (refuse to give my number out to anyone = why?). However this month my Internet then my house phone went completely out & I actually had to learn how to use my flip phone. Turns out I’m useless at texting so Telstra had to guide me through technology!! I think the technicians were having a giggle as this lady (me!) born last century, just couldn’t manage – but I eventually did get things back to normal & back on SAS!!

    • Allison Hulse I am ahead of you there. I don’t have a landline only my mobile. So I use it a lot and I text a lot. I just came home from taking my hubby to the airport and as I got our of the car my phone fell out of my pocket and hit the concrete. The back came off and the battery fell out. Panic, I put it all back together and switched it on and thank goodness it still works. Tough little phone. It must be about 5 years old and still working.

    • Yep. Mine has had lots of mishaps. Even dropped it down a dunny, fished it out ( before I flushed) gave it a wipe and it still talks to me.

    • I am one of those people you referred to Rod, agree, I’m a, pisses me off, kinda of user, don’t know how I survived before they came along!!

    • I have one of the cheapest little Samsung flip-phones – which I was perfectly happy with until I was given a 4″ Nokia Lumia 520 for xmas (think it was under $100) – which apart from the GREAT free (no internet wi-fi needed) GPS turn-by-turn spoken navigation (HERE maps) we use in Sydney, and used happily in 3 weeks driving around France – I found the voice quality in phone conversations much more pleasant with the new phone – the old Samsung flip-phone sounds positively scratchy and nasty compared to it.

  5. I love my mobile phone. I rarely use it for social media and never for games, but I make all my calls on it (I get $500 of calls free each month so why wouldn’t I?). I don’t use it for banking – that’s reserved for my desk top computer with good fire wall protection, but I take photos with it and it’s now the only alarm clock I have. I’m about to use a new app that allows me to store all my loyalty cards that have been weighing down my purse – so there’s another plus!

    4 REPLY
    • Yes I need to look into the new app for cards , it’s a card world and we get toooo many for our purses . … Like you , calls and texts . Banking on iPad or laptop only . Our mobile phones are our only phones now . No landline any more .

    • Barb Wright It’s called Stocard. I’ve downloaded the freebie but haven’t tried it yet to see if it’s any good. Hopefully it will be!!!

  6. I agree with all the assessments from Over 60. I use my mobile as an alarm, banking tool, address book, contact point, calculator, camera, music player etc etc. Wonderful tool, but I dont check it first thing every morning, or use it to replace real people contact. It is a tool and replaces a whole lot of other gadgets.

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