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Digital advocate guides seniors' digital transformation
senior people using tablet

Digital advocate guides seniors' digital transformation

Alvin Quak starts his day off on his phone but it’s not to scroll through social media. As one of the Digital Ambassadors (DAs) from IMDA’s SG Digital Office (SDO), Alvin goes over and beyond to ensure no senior is left behind as Singapore becomes more digitally connected. By simplifying tasks like online payments for the pioneer generation, the 52-year-old helps them understand how technology can make their life easier. The impact of his efforts is far-reaching, extending to Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador (SIWA) Madam Susan Tan, whom he takes great pride and joy in having personally guided with her digital journey.

Building a digitally inclusive society

Singapore launched the Seniors Go Digital programme in June 2020 to accelerate digital adoption amongst seniors. As part of this programme, DAs have helped more than 280,000 seniors adopt digital tools1. The programme and SDO’s efforts have seen success, with smartphone ownership among seniors increasing from 74 per cent in 2017 to 89 per cent in 20222.

However, many seniors are still reluctant to go digital due to concerns about online risks and this hinders their adoption of basic digital skills. In his current role, Alvin tackles this challenge head on. Through immersive, real-life experiences, he demonstrates how technology enhances seniors' lives and equips them with online safety knowledge.

A group picture of three senior citizens posing by a backdrop for an e-payments learning workshop and doing a thumbs up sign.
SDO also empowers seniors to go digital through free educational courses on key digital skills.

DAs are integral to Singapore's goal of becoming a Digital First society. Placed strategically in communities, they enhance digital adoption and literacy for seniors, fostering community and connection. Each DA goes through an ongoing learning process, where new updates are disseminated throughout their training. This meticulous approach ensures DAs have a robust understanding and proficiency before stepping into their roles.

By ensuring the silver generation is equipped with digital skills for daily tasks, DAs like Alvin play a crucial role in Singapore’s transition to a digital society.

Accelerating seniors’ digital journeys

In today’s fast-paced digital age, the use of technology can bring ease and efficiency for seniors, especially those living alone, to connect with the people around them. Some seniors tend to be wary of technology and most shy away from reaching out to family members for help due to the fear of being an inconvenience.

One of the key reasons behind Alvin’s decision to turn down a full-time job offer and pursue the path of a DA was the desire to bridge this gap. Stationed at Yuhua Community Centre for the last two and a half years, Alvin has worked tirelessly to become a friendly face in the neighbourhood and is always eager to spend his day with the seniors he coaches. “I look forward to my appointments with them; when a senior greets me, I feel like my day becomes brighter,” said Alvin with a smile. Today, Alvin has progressed in his role to become a Digital Ambassador Lead.

 A photo of Digital Ambassador Lead Alvin Quak with Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador (SIWA) Susan Tan at a sharing session.
Alvin and SIWA Madam Susan Tan at an SDO event sharing about seniors learning to go digital.

Using his DA training and tapping into deep wells of patience, Alvin creates a safe space for senior residents to ask questions and learn about all things related to technology. He believes that the first step is helping them realise that their phone can do more than make phone calls. A strong advocate of hands-on learning, Alvin encourages seniors to use their mobile phones to shop online and make mobile payments, while guiding them how to do so safely. He helps them get over their hesitation of going cashless by taking them to supermarkets and demonstrating every payment step in detail. For SIWA Madam Susan, this was an especially enlightening experience. Thanks to Alvin’s detailed explanation of the process, she is now able to confidently use mobile payments at self-checkout counters. Under Alvin’s patient guidance, many seniors have also downloaded and set up the Singpass app on their phones and enjoy using the National Library Board app to read their favourite books.

Another important part of his mission is ensuring seniors stay safe online. Alvin often explores solutions to cyber safety and scam awareness by actively engaging with seniors who come to him for help, quizzing them on online safety and security when the opportunity crops up. Alvin’s approach, which is all about teaching and not troubleshooting, not only promotes lifelong learning for the elderly but also for himself. Commenting on this rewarding experience, Alvin said, “Seniors are attentive and appreciative during group workshops. To me, their response is both an achievement and positive affirmation.”

For Alvin, every opportunity to teach and support a senior is a step in the right direction. By instilling confidence and fostering their curiosity with patience and dignity, Alvin opens the door for seniors to explore, learn, and embrace the ever-evolving world of technology.

Leading the way

Alvin's work as a Digital Ambassador Lead goes beyond bridging the digital divide; it involves finding personal fulfilment and creating a lasting impact on the lives of others. Through the efforts of passionate individuals like Alvin and the Seniors Go Digital programme, IMDA is not only promoting digital adoption and literacy but creating a community that thrives in the new digital world. Find out how you can embark on your own fulfilling journey and play your part in shaping Singapore’s digital future.

The Digital Ambassador making a difference

Alvin enjoys his calling as a Digital Ambassador

Alvin hails from a product development background. He previously worked on merchandise at Universal Studios Singapore. During a job hunt in 2020, he stumbled upon the chance to become a Digital Ambassador and was first stationed at Yuhua Community Centre. This role not only suited his adaptability and resilience but also allowed him to empower fellow Singaporeans with essential digital skills. Today, Alvin continues his calling as a Digital Ambassador Lead at Yuhua, having grown fond of the community and its people.


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