By Jan Schultz 

“Grandma, why is your purse so heavy?” my 5-year-old granddaughter asked one day as I was driving to the store to go shopping with her. 

“Because my life is in my purse,” I replied, matter-of-factly. 

Kayleigh was very quiet for a while and I looked around to discover that she was busy emptying my purse onto the seat next to her. 

“What are you doing, young lady?” I asked. 

“I just wanted to see what your life is like!” Kayleigh replied with a huge grin on her face. 

And it was true. My life was in my purse: my wallet — which contained my driver’s license, credit cards, and cash — a notebook, pens, comb, lipstick, appointment calendar, energy bar, lists, address book, and assorted other “necessary” items. 

That was 15 years ago; now my granddaughter is a junior in college and probably doesn’t even carry a purse. She does carry a smartphone which no doubt contains her life. 

And what about me? Well, I own one of the first flip-top phones, which puts me in the dinosaur category. Like many grandparents, I am technologically challenged. I use my desktop computer every day to do most of the things a smartphone would cover; in fact, I even taught online classes, so I regard myself as a somewhat sophisticated computer user, but that’s where it ends. Do I need a smartphone? What are the pros and cons of investing in such a device? 

First the disadvantages. For starters, an up-to-date phone can be a big expenditure, depending on the type of phone purchased. Aside from the costs, there’s also the impersonal aspect of phones. Nothing saddens me more than to enter a restaurant and see tables of couples or friends absorbed in their handheld devices ignoring their companions. And there’s the difficulty for some to learn how to use their phones. A friend told me recently that even though she’s had her phone for a few months, she’s just recently catching on to its many functions. 

Cell phones can be dangerous, too. An 80-year-old friend was driving down a busy street, became distracted by her phone and accidentally rear-ended the driver in front of her, causing a chain reaction of four more cars. Her phone did come in handy to speed-dial the police and tow truck! Try to imagine this white-haired woman crawling out of the back seat window because her doors wouldn’t open. 

On the positive side, owning a smartphone allows one to carry a plethora of information in a purse or pocket. And the other perks are many; smartphones provide a camera and plenty of storage, access to the Internet, texting, lists, a latest read, directions to destinations, and other benefits too numerous to mention. Friends with grandchildren tell me that it’s much easier to stay in touch with the younger generation by texting. 

Oh, and a smartphone can also be used to call people. 

Another friend considers owning a smartphone vital for anyone who lives alone. I agree with that, but I think that any kind of phone would do. Nowadays, many folks with cell phones have canceled their landlines. I’ve learned that one excellent reason for keeping my landline is to call my cell phone when it is lost in the depths of my home. It always works! 

Perhaps now that I’m living in the 21st Century I may have to bite the bullet and join the smartphone club. I’ll text Kayleigh when I do.