SINGAPORE - Over 400 senior citizens learnt how to use everyday apps such as PayLah and Singpass, as well as to spot signs of a scam, at an event held on Monday at the National Library to mark what has been billed as the first Smart Nation Grandparents’ Day.
They attended talks and received one-on-one coaching on using digital government services at the event organised by the Smart Nation Digital Government Office, which is under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Smart Nation Grandparents’ Day 2022 aimed to get seniors to adopt technology in their daily lives.
Monday’s programme was based on a poll of over 100 Singaporeans held in September by the organiser to find out what seniors want out of digital services and how tech can help in family bonding.
The results showed that respondents wanted the older generation to learn how to use their smartphones and to avoid scams.
The respondents also said that activities such as making videos and digitalising photo albums could encourage intergenerational bonding.
Seniors above 60 who were polled said they were unsure of what apps to use to connect with the younger generation aside from WhatsApp and wanted to learn more.
Participants at Monday’s event in Victoria Street included seniors from Lions Befrienders, RSVP, an organisation of senior volunteers, and the Singapore Indian Development Association.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development, Mr Tan Kiat How, said at the event that the use of smartphones and social media has changed the way people maintain relationships.
“It’s easy to lose touch with family members who haven’t kept up with the changes. And for some, the analogue world can become an increasingly lonely place.”
He added: “Family support is critical for seniors as they adapt to digitalisation in their daily lives. So let us all be a little more patient in helping our grandparents and seniors who are trying to navigate the digital space.”
The seniors were given tips on cyber security at a talk on Monday. These included having a password that is a phrase instead of just one word, and not entering sensitive information online when using free Wi-Fi as hackers could be spoofing a public network to obtain users’ details.
During the talk by cyber security company Palo Alto Network, seniors were advised to use the names of their loved ones in their contact list instead of using terms based on relationships, such as “son”. This is so that if their phones were lost, crooks would not know who are their loved ones to call to demand a ransom, for instance.
Madam Helen Yek, 68, who has been volunteering with Smart Nation for three years, said seniors who do not know English have trouble with payment and government apps. They are also afraid of change, such as switching from the physical Passion Card they are familiar with, to using the Yuu app for discounts at shops.
She said: “We need to help them practise a few times how to use the different apps. Showing them only once won’t help them remember how to use it.”
Madam Toh Geok Lian, 71, who was at the event with her husband, said in Mandarin: “I don’t know how to use these apps. What if I press wrongly on PayLah and accidentally lose my money?”
Mr Daniel Lee, 64, a retired bank officer, said he prefers to use cash instead of e-payments as he is worried about getting scammed. He added: “I’m okay with people paying me on PayLah, but I won’t transfer money there.”
There are other outreach efforts to help seniors with using digital technology. These include volunteers from the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care going door to door to teach them to use their devices.
Seniors can also go to community centres and public libraries for one-on-one sessions with a digital ambassador.