Remember when your candy-apple red Samsung clamshell — whose big feature was that it gave you access to the Verizon Music Store — was all you needed? Now, smartphones are so ingrained in everyday life that there are alerts to get you
off them (cc: the video that pops up when you’ve been scrolling TikTok for too long). Ours is such a digital world that some tech companies even want us to up and move to the metaverse. But for people who are happy to text their friends, then go touch some grass, this presents a problem. You know you need certain devices to function in the IRL-verse, but what are the exact electronics that you should own? That’s where tech gifts for non-techies come in.
Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of research for the
Consumer Technology Association, producer of CES, tells Bustle that “today, every sector is part of the tech sector,” pointing not only to smartphones, but things like connected kitchen appliances. “With the increasing functionalities and connectivity of all our products, many have now become essential to our lives.”
If your BFF can’t tell an
NFT from a VPN, they probably don’t want the latest doodad for the holidays — but they could probably use a pair of backup headphones. Below, non-tech-obsessed millennials (and a few experts) share the stuff everyone really needs to be an adult.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 A Pair Of Everyday Headphones 2 A Chic Phone Case
I cringe every time I see someone walking around with their phone sans case — they’re just asking to smash their screen. These
technicolor designs from Society6 are available both for iPhone and Android phones and won’t compromise your giftee’s sense of style. 3 A Subscription To Watch TV & Movies
With live sports, original series, big movies and holiday specials, Paramount+ is the perfect holiday streaming destination. For a limited time only, new subscribers can take advantage of an extended 1-month free trial and stream their favorite things all holiday season. After the trial, plans start at $4.99 a month.
4 A GPS For Your Pup
Dog moms appreciate practical gifts like
Whistle’s dog GPS. “It’s my future stress reducer for off-leash park time,” says Elizabeth, 28, who’s based in New York. “If he runs, I’ll find him.” 5 An LED Ring Light
They’re not just for wannabe influencers. Tech journalist
Andrea Smith calls ring lights nonnegotiable, especially for post-lockdown video calls. This highly-rated version comes with a tripod and is only $20 on Amazon. 6 A Colorful Video Game Console
Alaia, 37, from Los Angeles, says playing video games is one thing she misses as an adult. “I wouldn’t buy a console for myself, but I would love to be given one.” A
Nintendo Switch Lite comes in five colors and will let you play as much Mario Kart as your inner child desires. 7 Some Workout Headphones
Send an implicit “literally do not talk to me” signal to the bros at the gym with these top-rated
over-ear headphones. With 20 hours of battery and moisture-wicking ear pads, they’ll drown out the sound of the weight rack so you can focus on your sweat sesh. 8 A Second Computer Monitor
Don’t forget about the work-from-home crew. New Yorker Frances, 27, says a second monitor is one gizmo she definitely needs. This
24-inch version from Viewsonic saves space by being able to power up laptops that use USB-C chargers. At $290, it’s not the cheapest present, but it does level up a workspace — perfect for your sister who’s girlbossing a bit too close to the sun. 9 A Handy Bluetooth Tracker
If your roommate won’t stop sacrificing her keys to the depths of your couch cushions every week, a Bluetooth stuff-tracker comes in handy.
Tile’s Android-compatible option is the OG version, while Apple’s AirTags are easier to set up for iPhone users. 10 A Smart TV Stick
Your cousin might not need the latest tech gadget, but she definitely watches TV. Smith says that anyone who doesn’t already have a smart TV would benefit from the latest
Roku Streaming Stick 4K. “It gives you access to all other subscription services,” says Smith. Rohrbaugh adds that given concerns about the supply chain this holiday season, she expects streaming video, audio, and fitness subscriptions will be popular gift options this year. 11 A Sleek Alarm Clock
If there’s one new year’s resolution sleep experts want you to make, it’s to
stop sleeping near your phone. “Just glancing at the time can be enough to wake you up, while checking email, reading news, or engaging in other activities such as playing games or texting can make getting back to sleep difficult or impossible,” Rose MacDowell, sleep expert and chief research officer at Sleepopolis, previously told Bustle. The blue-light-free Hatch Restore is an elegant sunrise alarm, bedside lamp, noise machine, and meditation assistant all in one device. 12 A Wireless Charging Pad
If your insomniac friend can’t bear to follow the above advice, simplify their bedside charging station with
Native Union’s wireless charging pad. Compatible with Apple and Android devices, this pad eliminates the need to rummage around for a cord. For someone who needs to charge their phone, Apple Watch, and AirPods overnight, Native Union also makes a pad that supports all three at once. 13 A Home Security Camera
For your college bestie who just moved into her first big-girl home, Smith recommends GE’s brand new
smart home camera. “What I like about it is that it has a privacy shutter on it. So if you’re home, you can just pop that privacy shutter down and it’s not going to record anything, but if you lift it up when you leave, it’s a motion-sensor camera.” Unlike similar versions, this camera stores all the footage it captures on a physical SD card, not on the cloud, assuaging any privacy concerns. 14 An OG Smart Speaker
Kristjana, 31, in Rapid City, South Dakota, says a smart speaker is the one tech item her home is missing. For $50, you can get the
globular white Echo, which uses Alexa to play music and carry out home tasks through connected apps. Buying for a friend named Alexa who can’t handle the competition? Google’s Nest Mini is $24.99 (down from $49) and comes in four colors that’ll suit any design scheme. 15 Donation To Black Girls Code
And for the person in your life who says she absolutely doesn’t want any more gadgets? Consider a donation to
Black Girls Code, which will help provide workshops and classes for the next generation of people turning tech dreams into reality.