Singapore

New courses to better prepare senior citizens for digital lifestyle

New courses will cover topics from e-payment to fake news

Mr Liu Ming Ching, 59, uses a smartphone app to pre-order food and beat the queue at Koufu foodcourt. He also uses the Singtel Dash e-payment app to get 5 per cent cash back on his shopping at FairPrice supermarkets.

While technology use is second nature to the computer science and electronic engineer, the retiree understands that many senior citizens may struggle even to top up their ez-link card electronically.

This is even more so with sophisticated tasks such as discerning fake news and scams.

"I can lead by example and have the time to share my experiences," said Mr Liu, a volunteer working with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to teach the elderly how to use technology.

He is looking forward to be involved in a series of new courses being rolled out to better prepare senior citizens for a digital lifestyle.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament yesterday that the expanded curriculum covers topics from the use of e-payment, chat apps and digital government services, to spotting fake news and online scams.

During the debate on the Ministry of Communications and Information's budget, Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) asked what was being done to help citizens, especially seniors, to be digitally ready.

Being digitally ready is also about having the skills to use digital technology safely and confidently. Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary

Ms Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) wanted to know how the Government would help the elderly become more aware of, and take precaution against, cyber risks.

Acknowledging the challenges, Dr Janil said: "We have redefined digital inclusion as more than just access but also equipping people with skills."

"Being digitally ready is also about having the skills to use digital technology safely and confidently," he said, noting that the expanded curriculum was created to take care of such needs.

For instance, the six-hour-long basic digital skills training will be offered from the middle of this year to train those aged 40 and above how to transact and communicate online safely and spot fake news and online scams, among other things.

"To ensure that everyone can benefit from this, we will provide training for these basic skills in all four languages by the end of the year," said Dr Janil.

To encourage those aged 50 and above to go cashless, the IMDA will roll out experiential learning journeys, where seniors will be guided by youth volunteers to download banking apps to receive credits and food discounts, top up ez-link cards electronically and make payments using quick response codes.

Since IMDA introduced its Silver Infocomm Initiative in 2007, it has reached some 190,000 seniors with the help of 700 volunteers.

Technology