Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 11 November 2016


At a recent Digital TV & Silver IT Fest roadshow, seniors were encouraged to pick up IT skills as Singapore readies for a digital tomorrow.


Seniors gathered at the Digital TV & Silver IT Fest roadshow held at Bedok Mall to learn about IT courses and technological tools available for the elderly.

By Annabelle Liang

Retiree Mdm Goh Siok Tian can’t live without a smartphone.

The 70-year-old uses it to catch up with hundreds of contacts, who often share photographs and videos on WhatsApp.

The instant mobile messaging service also keeps her close to her son, who works in the United States, said Mdm Goh. He gave her a smartphone as a gift two years ago. Now, they frequently communicate through internet voice calls.


“I don’t think I can survive without my phone. Some of my friends are not as savvy, so I taught them how to use WhatsApp,” said Mdm Goh (pictured left). Her quick introductory “lesson” includes crafting messages, something she is familiar with. But there is more to master, such as using a smartphone to navigate the Internet, which she hoped to find a course for.

With that in mind, Mdm Goh visited the recent Digital TV & Silver IT Fest 2016 roadshow, organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Held from 4 – 6 November at the atrium of Bedok Mall, it featured a slate of booths that encouraged Singaporeans and seniors to ride the digital wave.

Launched in 2007, the Silver Infocomm Initiative encourages seniors aged 50 and above to bridge the digital divide, regardless of educational background, language and infocomm competencies.

At the recent roadshow, seniors were given the opportunity to attend short tutorials led by a volunteer trainer on useful mobile apps, such as OneService, MyTransportand Health Buddy.

The Wireless@SG booth was close at hand, to help visitors set up a free account and access Internet while on the go. Hundreds of wireless hotspots are available in public areas such as shopping malls, dining establishments and libraries.

The People’s Association Senior Academy offered other IT courses. Its Seniors for Smart Nation programme offers programmes in five main areas – social media, lifestyle, office, photography and the latest trends.

They can also learn basic computer skills, how to send e-mails and use smartphones at Silver Infocomm Junctions (SIJs) – senior-friendly learning hubs appointed by the IMDA. Over 80,000 seniors have benefitted from courses at SIJs.

Non-profit organisation RSVP Singapore is an SIJ that offers a variety of IT courses, including Basic Computer and Introduction to iPad, available in both English and Mandarin. The best part? The courses are conducted by experienced volunteer trainers who are also seniors themselves, and are thus able to teach their peers at a comfortable pace.


Many of RSVP trainer Mdm Cheow Chin Wang’s students were looking to buy a technological device, or have received one as a gift from their children. 

She started facilitating classes almost a decade ago, after picking up skills from RSVP’s IT courses.

“At the start of every class, I will let seniors know that I am just like them. Because I’ve been through the process myself, I know where we normally fumble. That puts me in a better position to help,” said the 66-year-old (pictured right).

“I also tell them that there’s no shame in repeating a course to reinforce your memory,” she added. “Given our age, technology is something alien to us, so we need time to absorb the knowledge.”

The roadshow also featured a talk on 2G cessation, as all telcos would stop offering these services from April 2017. To encourage visitors to upgrade, Singtel and M1 hawked special deals at the event for seniors and 2G customers, respectively.

To encourage Singaporeans to switch from watching analogue to digital TV (DTV) signals, the roadshow featured a hands-on experience booth and information counters on various ways to receive DTV signals. Analogue TV signals will be switched off across Singapore at the end of 2017, the government had previously announced.

DTV promises better quality pictures, superior sound, subtitles in multiple languages and electronic programme guides.

MK3A1692Those with a StarHub TV or Singtel TV subscription are already enjoying DTV. If not, viewers can convert their existing TVs by buying a digital set-top box and antenna. Households with TV sets that have the ability to receive digital signals can simply connect their TVs to an antenna.

Low-income Singaporean households may apply for the DTV Assistance Scheme to make the transition.

At the recent roadshow, visitors had the opportunity to try their hands at connecting a TV to a digital set-top box and antenna. Besides conducting DTV roadshows, IMDA is working with voluntary welfare organisation, Lions Befrienders, to get the elderly up to speed during their regular home visits.

Elena Chia, who is self-employed, felt that these outreach initiatives would benefit seniors like herself. The 67-year-old was scouting for a course on smartphone usage.

“It’s not easy for older people to learn how to use the iPhone, tablet or connect to digital TV. But I think it is important to keep up with the times,” she explained.