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Seniors advocate for digital proficiency through SIWA programme
Senior couple using a digital tablet in living room, spending time and bonding with each other.

Seniors advocate for digital proficiency through SIWA programme

73-year-old retiree Madam Susan Tan started her digital journey by mastering mobile payments to avoid snaking queues at supermarket checkouts. Her learning did not stop there. Since then, she has advanced her digital knowledge and now helps her fellow seniors go digital by sharing her wisdom. Senior citizens like Madam Tan are proving that age is no barrier to embracing technology and are encouraging their peers to embark on their own digital journey.

An active volunteer at the Yuhua neighbourhood community centre, Madam Tan's experience as a Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador (SIWA) began in December 2022 when she attended the Digital for Life: Celebrate Digital @ Taman Jurong event at the Taman Jurong Community Club. The event, one of many free courses for seniors in Singapore, was organised to promote digital adoption and literacy. While there, Madam Tan spoke about the benefits of going digital and encouraged her peers to do the same. Her strong relationship with the residents through her volunteering work helped her gain their trust and made a strong impact on her fellow seniors.

A photo of Madam Tan at her appointment as a Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador in 2022.
Madam Tan was appointed as a SIWA in 2022 for her passion in helping fellow seniors go digital.

For Madam Tan, who used to teach handicrafts before she retired, being a SIWA not only allowed her to enhance her digital literacy skills, but also to volunteer and assist other seniors with their learning experience. As a digital advocate, she firmly believes that if she can embrace the digital world, her peers can too.

Helping seniors become digital advocates

The SIWA programme, spearheaded by IMDA’s SG Digital Office (SDO) and the People’s Association Active Ageing Council (PA AAC), allows tech-savvy seniors aged 50 and above promote digital adoption and literacy within their communities. With an increasing number of seniors expressing interest in going digital, IMDA and PA AAC appoint new SIWA members annually, to guide and motivate fellow seniors to make the most of technology.

Becoming a SIWA brings numerous advantages, including the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers who share a commitment to help seniors pick up digital skills. SIWAs volunteer and participate in various events organised by IMDA or PA AAC, demonstrating their IT expertise through community engagements, interviews, or other activities for publicity or outreach purposes. Whether it's through social networking, digital photography, or e-banking, they encourage their peers to learn and adopt technology. Most importantly, SIWAs are role models for fellow seniors.

Madam Tan’s foray into the digital world

An illustration showing a Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador advocating digital skills to fellow seniors.

SIWAs can share their experiences and inspire fellow seniors to pick up various digital skills.

Madam Tan had always been curious about digital devices and interested to learn about them but was hesitant to ask her children for help, fearing that she would inconvenience them. Her digital literacy journey began when she saw an advertisement by IMDA during her volunteering work. Intrigued, she decided to sign up for workshops to learn more about technology. Her interest and enthusiasm caught the eye of SDO’s Digital Ambassador Lead (DAL), Mr Alvin Quak, who nominated her to become a SIWA.

Madam Tan's learning experience was transformative. She quickly mastered the intricacies of mobile payments and even began utilising the National Library Board app for reading. The patience and detailed explanations provided by the Digital Ambassadors played a huge part in helping her realise the benefits of technology. SDO’s one-to-one coaching sessions caught Madam Tan’s eye, and the eager learner found herself attending workshops and visiting the centre twice or thrice weekly.

Today, as a SIWA, Madam Tan actively encourages her peers to participate in these learning programmes. The tech-savvy retiree believes in digital adoption and literacy to connect with family overseas, as well as prevent dementia by providing a form of cognitive stimulation through continuous learning . She has helped many of her elderly peers learn and use WhatsApp’s free call and voice messages functions, which are particularly beneficial for those who struggle with typing. Madam Tan’s guidance and training have significantly enriched the lives of these seniors, proving that digital tools can be both accessible and empowering.

Madam Tan feels empowered to represent her community and be a role model to her peers, leading by example to show fellow seniors that they too can upskill digitally. For her, seeing her peers successfully learn new skills from her teaching has been extremely satisfying. In fact, much like herself, she helped several of her peers begin their own digital journeys by guiding them how to navigate mobile payments at supermarkets and hawker centres.

A photo of Madam Tan posing with her Digital Ambassador, Mr Alvin Quak at a digital workshop.
With Alvin's guidance, Madam Tan encourages seniors to embrace digital technology and continue learning.

Join the SIWA family of tech-enabled seniors

Madam Tan's experience as a SIWA is a testament to how seniors can benefit immensely from digital technology. Through her involvement in the SIWA programme, Madam Tan not only upskilled herself, but also became an inspiration for her peers. In Singapore’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, seniors have a vital role in assisting each other and demonstrating that acquiring digital proficiency is both possible and rewarding.

If Madam Tan’s story inspires you to become a SIWA, learn how you can embark on your own path to digital literacy.


1 The Straits Times, June 2023, Asian dementia on the rise in Singapore.


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