Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (middle), hailed more than 160 Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors at the opening ceremony of this year's Silver IT Fest.
By Suresh Nair
“I’ve always been passionate about promoting education of all forms to the young and old, including helping seniors to pick up IT,” said Madam Noorlinda binte Buang, a mother of four teenagers. She personifies the virtues of a Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador, and was praised by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information for going the extra mile in promoting IT to senior citizens.
The 50-year-old childcare-centre principal at the PAP Community Foundation in Jurong Central does it right in her own home, teaching her 96-year-old father-in-law and 78-year-old mother to be IT savvy. “Now my mum is able to video-call relatives overseas and (my) father-in-law stays connected with the grandchildren using his smartphone,” she said.
Technology has strengthened her family bonds and now she hopes to inspire other seniors to join the journey in embracing technology in their lives.
Madam Noorlinda (left) is also an exemplary advocate of lifelong learning. She attained her degree in Bachelor of Science (Literacy) when she was in her 40s.
At the opening ceremony of this year’s Silver IT Fest on 10 June at the Lifelong Learning Institute, Minister Yaacob hailed Madam Noorlinda and 162 Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors for their commitment to the new Tech Silver Project, a peer-learning initiative, where “they will continue to help other seniors adopt technology with confidence and meaning”.
New online portal
Besides the Tech Silver Project, the Silver IT Fest also introduced a new online portal to help senior citizens in Singapore pick up IT skills such as using mobile devices, chat applications and cloud-based storage, as well as preventing cybercrimes. The portal, called IM Silver, offers senior citizens access to online guides, electronic books, videos and seminars to help them learn and utilise mobile and digital technologies.
“Our vision for a digital society has the potential to transform Singapore and improve our lives. However, understanding technology can seem not only intimidating, but also costly,” said Minister Yaacob. “Digital readiness is a national effort and we will all need to do more to ensure that our seniors are able to reap the benefits and add meaning to their lives.”
IMDA chief executive Mr Tan Kiat How said IMDA hopes many more seniors will take part in these new programmes. "It is now even easier for seniors to learn how to use technology to stay connected with friends and family, enhance the quality of their lives through online resources and at the same time, stay safe from cybercrimes,” he said.
Teach them patiently
Minister Yaacob also singled out Mr Tariam Singh, 70, a retired civil servant, who encourages his peers to go digital via different languages including Mandarin, Malay, Punjabi and Hokkien. “IT may seem very advanced and difficult for the older folks but if we teach them patiently, it will make their lives more meaningful. My best advice: Learn what you can, we will help,” he said.
For former waitress Monica Leung Chun Yin, 72, who is retired for seven years, her smartphone is “an important tool” in her daily life after she attended classes in a Senior Activity Centre in Jalan Bukit Merah. She also shared what she’s learned to her husband, including using the smartphone’s calendar and adding reminders about future appointments. Now using a 4G smartphone, she uses the Chinese keyboard function to communicate with friends through WhatsApp.
The Silver IT Fest is an annual event organised by IMDA together with Institutes of Higher Learning, and industry and community partners. The event shares the latest infocomm trends and happenings with seniors through seminars, workshops, tutorials and exhibitions.
The new IM Silver Portal makes learning more accessible beyond the classroom. For details, visit IMSilver.sg