Seniors get coaching on using smartphones

At the launch of the Digital Volunteers initiative yesterday was resident Chew Li Fong (second from left), 66, who wore a SenzeBand which detects brainwaves, as she played mental games on a tablet device.
At the launch of the Digital Volunteers initiative yesterday was resident Chew Li Fong (second from left), 66, who wore a SenzeBand which detects brainwaves, as she played mental games on a tablet device.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Volunteers show how to adjust call volume, use various camera modes and other functions

Retiree Lilian Tan bought a smartphone a year ago but has used it only to make calls and send messages.

The resident, who is in her 70s, hopes to do more with her Huawei mobile phone, including using the camera and audio features, but has trouble doing so.

"It is not easy when you have so many functions on one phone. It can be intimidating," she said in Mandarin. "But technology is changing rapidly and I want to keep up."

Seniors in the Canberra area where she lives and who are struggling with their mobile devices can now get personal coaching under a Digital Volunteers initiative launched by Canberra Grassroots Organisations yesterday.

During coaching sessions, volunteers will help them tackle problems, from adjusting call volume to using the various camera modes.

The initiative, launched at the annual Canberra Day in Sembawang Close, is meant to help seniors bridge the technology gap and also provides opportunities for volunteers to bond with the residents.

Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak said: "We also hope to use this project to get young residents who are digitally savvy to join us (as volunteers). This is a good way to bring the young and the old together."

The move comes amid a broader push by the Government to prepare senior citizens for a digital lifestyle. During the Parliament debate last week, the Government announced new courses that cover topics such as how to spot fake news and online scams, as well as how to make e-payments.

Yesterday's event was also attended by Sembawang GRC MPs Khaw Boon Wan, Ong Ye Kung and Vikram Nair.

Residents can approach the Canberra Community Club to ask for help with their smartphones before getting a personal coaching session.

Volunteer and student Amber Yip, 22, said: "Most seniors are not sure who to approach to ask for help with their devices and may feel neglected. We should help them overcome these difficulties so they can stay connected with others."

Dr Lim also announced that Sembawang residents can look forward to a new community hub with a polyclinic, hawker centre and sports facilities. The hub, to be located near Sembawang MRT station, will take about three years to complete.

"When completed, residents will have another location where they can enjoy greenery, and recreational and sporting activities," he said. "It will be one for the community to come together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2018, with the headline 'Seniors get coaching on using smartphones'. Print Edition | Subscribe