​Gifts for People Who Refuse to Embrace New Technology

​Gifts for People Who Refuse to Embrace New Technology

My dear mom is in possession of a cellular phone—let’s call it an iPhone—and yet you would not know it because she never picks up the cellular phone and because she frequently forgets the cellular phone at home. Just a couple weeks ago, she said something along the lines of, “What do I need a phone for?”

My phone is surgically attached to my fingers, personally, but there are those among us who need assistance with their gadgets. A friend of mine only recently upgraded from a BlackBerry to an Android device and figured out how to operate a touchscreen. Are there technophobes in your life who dare to wonder why the hell anyone needs a cell phone? Do not get them a selfie stick. Below are some gift options that will either assure them that their love of the simple life is fine and dandy, or it’ll give them a gentle reminder that it’s okay to be a person who lives in 2014 2015.

A Trusty Rotary Phone

For most anti-techies, a landline is a godsend and the perfect Told-You-So! during moments of distress when cell phones aren’t operating (think: storms). It’s not only practical (and setting up a landline is cheap), but also aesthetically pleasing.

Depending on the person’s style, you can either go really basic (Etsy has tons of options) or v. cool, like this antique phone from Sophie Systems, $58.

Classic Blackberry

Or consider staying in the digital age. Blackberry just released The Classic, a new phone ($450) that looks like the BlackBerry of yore but has updated guts. It appeals to people who love keyboards and who say things like, “They don’t make ’em like they used to!” out loud.

Polaroid Camera

Everyone’s pretty much using their mobile device to take unflattering pictures of other people and tag them on social networks (unless you’re or a “professional” photographer). A polaroid is one of those nostalgic gifts that appeals to anyone who feels like today’s digital cameras are too much to handle. It takes it back to what we call simpler times.

Here’s one from Urban Outfitters ($149.99), a store that has a solid selection of them if you’re not boycotting U.O. (you may have to go into the store if it’s sold out online). Just point and shoot and feel cool. You could also go with the flossy Socialmatic (starts at $299.99), which prints film from Instagram and also posts photos directly to the app. Surly purists can get the best of both worlds.

E-Reader Book Cover (Looks Like a Book!)

This person who hates technology must love books, right? Things that look like books probably excite them and make them feel all warm? If they’ve at least reluctantly upgraded to some sort of e-reader, then give them an inexpensive book-looking tablet cover ($40) like these options from Etsy that mimic classic book covers like To Kill a Mockingbird and Alice in Wonderland.

Idiot-Proof Bluetooth Speakers

Compared to other newfangled audio systems, bluetooth speakers tend to be the easy things ever to operate. I’ve had the UE Boom speaker ($179.99) for a couple years now; I find it efficient and practical and can also confirm that the sound output is great.


An even easier solution for a music lover who’d rather not deal with setting up wireless shit is a wooden speaker like this one from an Etsy seller ($48) or this Woody Woodpecker-worthy log ($55) that amplifies sound naturally. It requires simply placing the device into a nook—something a BABY (or even a man) could do.

Very Simple Smart Watch

Wearable tech is the present and future your anti-techie must face head on. A smart watch inherently appeals to technophobes, since it combines analog and digital and wants to focus on simplicity.
The Pebble Steel ($149.99) is a safe baby step because according to Gizmodo, “it’s a relatively simple, stripped-down smart watch with a less-is-more mentality. The Pebble Steel’s main job is to look pretty and show you phone-things on your wrist.” Also, the design is what the people call ~sleek~ which makes you actually want to use it.

If you think this person won’t even be able to handle a mildly intelligent watch but you’d like to get them a watch, then consider an Instawatch. It lets you customize its design and upload a photo to personalize the face.

Old School Sticky Notes and Pens

I’m guessing the one you’re gifting refuses to schedule things into his/her phone calendar and also hates using memo apps. They probably do a thing called writing stuff down. Here’s a nice pen to do that, if you’re willing to spend $65. Nice pen.

Alternately, there’s this $6 pen from Barnes & Noble that looks like a cat.

An even more considerate thing to do would be to supply them with a whole collection of antiquated items as a bundle that includes the aforementioned pens, a notepad ($5), journal, creative sticky notes ($3.95), etc.

A Voice-Controlled Coffee Maker

Speaking to devices to operate them really cannot get anymore dummy proof. Talk to this Hamilton Beach coffee maker and it makes coffee for you. Esquire had it on their list of “Gadgets for Your Technophobic Mother,” but to be fair, technology fails are a gender-neutral issue. If your giftee is a coffee addict, then this could be a life-saver.

A Back-Up Drive


Carrie learned it the hard way that even the best of us get screwed over by not backing up our computers. The average gadget-hater still at the least owns a computer, but probably not a backup drive, which is crucial if they don’t want to lose photos and documents that only exist in cyberspace.

Get them a back-up drive. The MyBook ($118) is one option. I use an Apple Time Capsule ($299) because it also doubles as a Wi-Fi base and makes my life easier.

Honestly, you might have to do some hand-holding to set this up for your giftee, but once it’s done they’ll be backing up everyday without noticing.

What’d I miss?

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

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