MCI Singapore
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MCI Singapore

Getting smart about her smartphone

When 2G networks in Singapore ceased in 2017, Mdm Ow Yong Hui had no choice but to learn to use her new smartphone.

Change has not been easy for the 75-year-old. She has had her smartphone for more than a year but never got around to using it as it seemed more complicated than the simple 2G phone she was used to.

With the phasing out of 2G, Mdm Ow, who lives alone, was determined to finally conquer her fear of new technology, and turned to her friends and even strangers for help.

If she needed to make a hospital appointment, her friends would guide her on how to use her phone to do so. With a laugh, she says she even resorted to approaching “kind and handsome young men” at lift lobbies in her Ghim Moh neighbourhood to help her make phone calls.

It was during one of her Sunday exercise classes at Ulu Pandan Community Centre that she first heard about Digital Clinic for Seniors.

At the Digital Clinic, one-on-one assistance will be given to the participants. A volunteer typically shares helpful smartphone tips, such as adjusting phone settings and using social media sites like Facebook and also answer to queries related to smartphones from the participant.

“It was my first time and I was eager to try it. The volunteers were very kind,” says Mdm Ow. Grateful for the volunteers’ patience, Mdm Ow also learnt to use WhatsApp, which enables her to keep in touch with her friends frequently and easily.

With her newfound skills, she realised that she could also help her friends who live alone to call for help in case of an emergency. “If people fall down, I can try to call for help,” says Mdm Ow.

Today, not only can she make calls and answer them easily, Mdm Ow can also use her smartphone camera. “It’s very useful! I can take pictures of my friends’ medication and vitamins and help to buy them at the pharmacy.”

Mdm Ow admits that she was at first doubtful about attending such session as she believed that her age and being Chinese-educated would hold her back. But her experience at the digital clinics taught her that there was nothing to be afraid of. In fact, she is looking forward to attend the next digital clinic in December, where she hopes to learn more about digital payment apps such as PayNow.

Besides learning, Mdm Ow is also keen to share her new knowledge with her peers. Her trick to convince them is to ask for their age! “I will first ask them, ‘how old are you?’. If they are younger, I will tell them that I am older and still learning. If they are older than me, I will encourage them as we are in the same boat and we can learn together!” she says. Mdm Ow’s advice to her peers and other seniors is:

“If you learn, you must practise. Although I still have a long way to go, it has been very helpful. I’ve learnt a lot and I want to go for more classes!”

In the long run, she wants to continue informally teaching her peers simple actions such as taking a photo on their smartphone, so that they can communicate with each other better. “It’s better to be independent and not have to rely on others. We are not too old to learn something new.”

About Digital Clinics

The Digital Clinics provide participants with valuable learning opportunities and one-on-one assistance in using their mobile devices such as smartphones. It aims to enable participants, especially seniors, to become more proficient with smart devices such as how to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots and personalise accessibility tools on their devices.

Interested to sign up for Digital Clinic for Seniors? Visit Digital Clinic for Seniors, or click here for more information.

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Official Medium Account for the Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore