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Expanded courses to help seniors be digitally ready

Training topics range from using e-payment and chat apps to spotting fake news, scams

Irene Tham on 07 Mar 2018

The Straits Times


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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 cashback on his shopping at FairPrice supermarkets.


While technology use is second nature to the computer science and electronics 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 getting involved in a series of new courses being rolled out to better prepare senior citizens for a digital lifestyle.


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


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.


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 noted that the expanded curriculum was created to take care of such needs.


For instance, the six-hour Basic Digital Skills training - which will be offered from the middle of this year - will train people 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, IMDA will also 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 their 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.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.