Seniors pick digital skills – with help and patience
Don’t expect to pick up new skills so quickly, it’s often a longer process – that’s the view 81-year-old Koh Tong Cheng takes to keep up with digitalisation.
“It took me nearly three years, from the Covid-19 lockdown, to learn how to use PayNow and PayLah,” Madam Koh told The Straits Times in Mandarin.
Madam Koh was one of several participants at the E-Payment Learning Journey and Data for All Roadshow at Nee Soon East Seniors’ Hub in Yishun on Sunday, helmed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) SG Digital Office (SDO). Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo also attended the event.
The SDO was set up in 2020 to accelerate the adoption of basic digital skills for individuals and businesses.
Madam Zainap Zainal Abidin agreed with Madam Koh’s take on learning.
“Initially when you start learning, everything is challenging. But after a while, it gets easier,” she said.
The 65-year-old said she picked up digital payment, as she helps out as a cashier at Haji Osnam Malay Barber Shop, which is owned by her husband.
“Nowadays, all these kids come in with their PayLah and PayNow. If I’m not aware of how to use it, it’s quite a setback for the shop,” she added.
A spokesman for IMDA told The Straits Times that more than 10,000 seniors have taken part in the e-payment learning sessions to date.
Madam Koh has attended more than four such e-payment sessions with SDO around the Nee Soon neighbourhood, close to her home in Yishun.
She also turns to her local SG Digital Community Hub at Yishun Public Library whenever she faces challenges with her smartphone.
“If I have something I don’t understand, I can just go there to get help. There will always be someone in a purple (digital ambassador) T-shirt I can look for,” she said.
An IMDA spokesman said there are 37 such hubs spread across community centres and public libraries islandwide.
Digital ambassadors are stationed at the hubs to provide one-to-one assistance on digital skills and knowledge.
The hubs also host group classes and learning journeys that seniors can participate in.
The digital community hubs are also a useful resource for Madam Pat Tee Bee Lian, 68, when she has difficulties with her smartphone.
She said: “Usually I’ll look for the digital instructors at the library. But sometimes I’ll wait for my children or my friends to help me.”
“The most challenging part of e-payments for me is I’m afraid of losing my money if I press the wrong button,” she told ST.
Even then, the move to digital payments has made things more convenient for her. For instance, she does not have to carry physical cash with her when she goes out.
Madam Koh agreed. She told ST that even now, she has similar fears when using e-payment platforms.
“I don’t use my phone as often, so I am still nervous when I have to pay with it. What if I accidentally press $48 when I’m only supposed to pay $4.80?” she said.
To work around that, Madam Koh said she practises using it more. She will also ask her friend to help give a second glance when they are out together.
Despite the challenges, Madam Zainap urged other seniors to start picking up digital skills if they have not already done so, to keep up with the times.
“I’ll tell them that there’s no barrier to learning, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” she said. “It’s a step forward, and after you take the first step, it becomes easier.”