How to Use a Smartphone: Android Tips Translated for Parents

There are over 2 billion monthly active Android devices.

But Android devices are not always user-friendly, especially for older generations.

Maybe you're wanting to get up to speed with your Android-touting teenagers. Or perhaps you are looking for easy ways to teach Mom and Dad how to use a smartphone.

Whatever the case, keep reading!

In this post, we provide tips and tricks for easily navigating the world of Android.

Android for Dummies

Android devices can be confusing for first-timers. They can be especially challenging to navigate if you are familiar with Apple devices (iOS operating systems).

The good news is that while your Android smartphone may not feel intuitive at first, it will over time. This is especially the case if you customize your phone based on personal preferences.

If you are teaching someone how to use an Android smartphone, prioritize the actions the user needs most.

For example, parents often make heavy use of messaging, email, social media, and basic calling. Stick with these tasks. Then, gradually add more complicated features, like apps and custom tools.

Setting Up A Google Account

Android is a Google product. For this reason, make sure your smartphone is Google-oriented.

If you don't already have a Google account, it's time to set one up. This isn't essential to use your phone itself. But it is vital for downloading Google apps and backing up data.

You can do this from your device itself or on a desktop computer here. If you already have a Gmail account, you already have a Google account! Keep this login information on hand at all times.

To set up Gmail on your phone, go to your device's Settings button. Select Accounts > Add Account > Google. Enter your Google login information and then choose to sync your Gmail account.

Navigation Buttons

Most Android devices have three major buttons for navigation.

Newer models may have a different set-up. For this reason, the best smartphone for beginners will have the standard three-button navigation.

Home Button

This is arguably the most important navigation button on Android. It is the center button at the bottom of your smartphone.

When you press this button, you'll go automatically to your phone's home screen. Your home screen is your portal to apps, messaging, and calling.

Back Button

The lefthand button at the bottom of your screen is the Back button. It often appears as a triangle pointing left.

This button takes you back to what you just accessed. This could be a previous page if you're browsing the web, or it could be another feature in an app.

If you press and hold this button while browsing the web, a page of your bookmarks will appear. These are sites you've bookmarked for future use.

Overview Button

This is the righthand button at the bottom of your screen. On most Android devices, it is shaped like a square. When you press this button, you'll get a birds-eye view of all your currently open apps.

You can tap on any of these to quickly navigate there. Alternatively, if you tap twice on the overview button, it will take you to your most recently used application.

Viewing Notifications

Your device can send you notifications for a lot of things, including texts, app alerts, and emails.

You can view all of these notifications at once by swiping down from the top of your smartphone's screen. Android users can also opt to view notifications on their lock and home screens.

If you want to change how you receive notifications, go to your Settings App > Apps & notifications > Notifications and make the selections you want.

Calling & Texting

Making a phone call on your Android smartphone is very straightforward. Simply identify the Phone icon (typically blue with a white phone), press this, and dial the number.

Text by pressing the Messaging app (often next to the phone icon), inputting a recipient, and typing away.

Create your contact list by pressing the Contacts icon on your home screen. From here, choose Add Contact and enter in the relevant information. Click Done when finished.


You can change your device's security options at any time. For example, you may want to set up a passcode to prevent unauthorized people from getting into your phone.

To do this, tap your phone's Setting app. Then tap Security or Security & Location. Choose Screen Lock to set up a passcode or fingerprint scan.

If you don't want a passcode of any kind, choose "None" after navigating to "Screen Lock."

Downloading Apps

Android devices already come with quite a few standard apps, including a calendar, notes, and messaging. You may, however, want to download some apps to suit your personal preferences. For example, Google users often prefer to download Google Calendar, Google Drive, and/or Google Documents.

It's easiest to download apps to your Android device by using Google Play. This is the Play Store app on your smartphone. All you have to do is browse for apps using the Play Store app, select the ones you want, and click Install!


You can customize your Android smartphone's sound at any time! Simply navigate to Settings > Sound and change the sounds you wish to hear for various notifications.

You can download some of Android's free ringtones for customized sound, too, if you don't like the current options.

Software Updates

It's a good idea to regularly update your device's software. This will keep it running smoothly and improve loading speeds.

Check for software updates by navigating to Settings > About Phone > System Updates > Check for Updates. If there is an update available, simply choose to install this.

Software updates can take a bit of time and space, so make sure your device is plugged in when you install.

How to Use a Smartphone

With these tips, anyone can learn how to use a smartphone--even parents!

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