Empowering seniors with smartphone skills

by | February 23, 2016

Four NTU students come up with lessons to help seniors use their smartphones more effectively.

seniors at the lessons

Seniors get to learn about mobile applications, basic phone functions, universal icons and cybersecurity.

As part of their final-year project, four students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have come up with a campaign that empowers seniors to use their smartphones effectively and independently. Called Savvy Silvers, the campaign is targeted to those aged 50 and above.

The team, which included Elissa Teo, Isadora Ong, Jaime Goh, all 23 years of age, and Sai Fengjia, 24, said: “This idea was conceived based on our personal experiences with teaching our own parents smartphone technology – during which we felt that there is a pressing need to bridge the knowledge gap and help seniors grasp basic smartphone skills so they can navigate their smartphones more easily in their daily lives.”

Last year, the team conducted a survey and found that while 90.7 percent of 194 respondents currently use smartphones, 58.5 percent said they had “little knowledge or skills” about their smartphones. In line with Singapore’s endeavour to be a Smart Nation, the team came out with three-hour lessons. The first hour focuses on data usage awareness, identifying universal icons, basic phone functions, watching tutorial videos on Facebook and cybersecurity.

The lessons were conducted

The teams has conducted several weekly lessons, with the remaining fully subscribed.

The second hour is on a specific mobile application such as Facebook, SG Buses, Google Maps and/or Mediacorp Toggle (which is based on results from the team’s preliminary research), and the third hour is one My Singtel App and practice time. The team from Savvy Silvers worked with a number of partners including People’s Association Active Ageing Council (PA AAC), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Singtel, Council for Third Age (C3A), Family Central, Mediacorp Toggle, and the National Youth Council.

The team has already conducted several weekly lessons in January and February at the Woodlands CC and Fengshan CC (with the remaining lessons full already). Each lesson is being led by a senior main trainer, assisted by both senior and youth facilitators. To date, the team has recruited about 160 senior (some of those are IDA’s Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors (SIWA)) and youth volunteers.

Paul Pang, 66, a SIWA and the main trainer for the first lesson in January, shared, “As a Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassador and a member of the pioneer generation, I believe that we should continue to be socially-active and contribute to society whenever possible. Furthermore, I find that when I have to train others, I am also learning myself during my preparation for the training.”

The Savvy Silvers team (from left to right) – left to right: Sai Fengjia (24), Jaime Goh (23), Isadora Ong (23), Elissa Teo (23).

The Savvy Silvers team (from left to right) – left to right: Sai Fengjia, Jaime Goh, Isadora Ong and Elissa Teo.

The lessons have been in English with facilitators providing assistance also in Mandarin. As of February 22, there have been a total of 298 sign-ups for all the lessons, with lessons in Woodlands CC seeing a total of 150 participants over one month.

The team has received positive feedback from the participants. Fifty-eight-year-old Angelin Lie, said at the first lesson, “Learning how to use a smartphone requires constant practice, and I am glad that I learnt something new today. I also feel that these lessons would be helpful for my friends as some of them don’t know how to use their smartphones too.”

Asked if there will be more lessons held, the Savvy Silvers team shared: “At the moment, there are no plans to hold more lessons. We are currently still in discussion with our partners and nothing is set in stone yet.”




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