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Never too late to learn IT

last updated 31 March 2017

A carnival of tech learning held over three days in March showed that age is just a number when it comes to learning about information technology.

silver it fest

Senior citizens from all walks of life learned basic technological skills such as how to use a smart phone from volunteers as part of the Silver IT Fest in March.

By Suresh Nair

To keep in contact with his digitally savvy grandchildren, Mr Kwan Iau Man knew he would need to learn how to send emails and operate a smart phone.

As such, the 73-year old former teacher decided to attend one of several three-hour training sessions at the Silver IT Fest held at ITE West @ Choa Chu Kang from 18 – 20 March. Organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the event encouraged seniors aged 50 years and older to enjoy the benefits of using technology in an increasingly digital society.

"Learning to read and respond to their emails is very relevant as I can stay in touch, particularly with my hyperactive grandkids," Mr Kwan told IMpact.

He added, "I’ve retired from the education service for 15 years but the personal challenge to learn and improve is still within me. I want to continue learning and upgrading as this will definitely keep me on my toes for many more years to come.”

silver it fest shirley tan

Ms Shirley Tan (left) learnt how to operate a smartphone as part of her silver IT class.

Another participant, Ms Shirley Tan (right), 67, attended a session to get a better handle on using a smartphone, which she describes as the "all-powerful universal remote to life".

"I realised I must move forward to be more IT-savvy. Seriously, there is no turning back the clock on technology," said Ms Tan, a sales assistant.

Among other skills, seniors can learn how to use a basic computer, send emails and use social media at the Silver IT Fest, which was launched 10 years ago. Classes are taught in the four official languages by volunteers such as 18-year old Adriana Madnadi, a second-year Cloud Computing undergraduate at ITE College West.

"As an IT undergraduate I feel a need to help bridge the knowledge gap and help seniors grasp basic smartphone skills so they can navigate their smartphones more easily in their daily lives."

While Ms Madnadi no doubt has the knowledge to help her seniors, she also realised that she needed to be more patient when dealing with older folks.

“They have to slowly overcome their fear of technology. I’ve found out through my interactions with the seniors that they enjoy fun-filled activities including bite-size tutorials on mobile applications, exhibition, workshops and seminars.”

Indeed, the initiative has helped many participants overcome their phobia of using technology, including Mr Francis Ang, 62, who got tips on how to use his Android phone at the festival. His advice to everyone?

“No matter whether you’re 25, 35, 55 or older, don’t give up on your dreams to learn and improve. Not trying is a sure path to failure. If you go after your dream, you may very well achieve it, even if it is later on in life.”

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