Everyone has a smartphone these days. Everyone except the older generation, that is.
And while during normal days, they are able to get by, the need for seniors to be digitally connected is never so apparent as when Covid-19 struck.
And that’s where five mobile service providers come in.
“Larger Data Bundles At Lower Cost”
Singtel, M1, StarHub, Circles.Life and TPG will start introducing mobile plans with “larger data bundles at lower cost” for seniors starting today.
The plans will be of different prices and will have varying service offerings.
The programme aims to ensure that at least 100,000 seniors are equipped with more digital skills by the year-end.
The press release statement also said, “These special plans, available to all seniors, offer larger data bundles at a lower cost, to give seniors the confidence to enjoy the benefits that digital services bring.”
Mobile Access for Seniors
Mobile Access for Seniors is another initiative that aims to provide eligible lower-income seniors with a subsidised smartphone and a one-year subsidised mobile data plan from any four of the five participating mobile service providers – SingTel, M1, StarHub or TPG.
If a senior is eligible, he or she can buy a basic smartphone with co-payment that starts from $20 and a $5 monthly plan that provides at least 5GB of data.
In order to give seniors a “greater peace of mind”, the press release also said that there will be no excess data charges.
The data plans will also come with value-added services like caller number display and cybersecurity protection at no extra charge.
How To Sign Up
In case you’re wondering how the seniors can sign up for the initiative, they can do so next month after they attend classes under the Seniors Go Digital programme to be equipped with at least one basic digital skill.
Other requirements are that they must be Singaporeans aged 60 and above, and are currently beneficiaries of certain government assistance schemes.
Assisting Seniors To Go Digital
Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran told reporters that the initiatives introduced will help to address concerns that seniors have about the cost.
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Mr Iswaran also talked about how Singapore is making “good progress” in our digitalisation efforts, and that we have been increasing these efforts after multiple challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May, the SDO was established and a new ministerial committee was formed to oversee the digitalisation.
Digital ambassadors under the SDO were asked to reach out to the elderly, including hawkers and wet market stall owners, and encourage them to become digitalised.
The ambassadors were only supposed to reach out to the elderly in 112 hawker centres and wet markets in Singapore by June, but they have gone ahead and surpassed expectations after they covered an additional 500 coffeeshops.
In response to this, Mr Iswaran said, “That is a very positive sign because it means that the execution is on track. The observation is that the message is getting through because even in this early stage, we already have one hawker centre that (is having a) 100% adoption rate.”
He continued, “This tells you that the stallholders are receiving the message, understanding it and translating it into action.”
In case the ambassadors under SDO aren’t enough, from July onwards, more than 300 youth volunteers from Youth Corps Singapore will be lending a helping hand and will visit elderly from 40 social service agencies to teach them digital skills that they may need.
These skills include how to use digital devices, how to communicate online, and how they should practise good cybersecurity habits.
ST Engineering has also donated $1 million to IMDA for its Digital Access Programmes (DAP). As of now, this is the single largest donation to the DAP, and this amount is most likely going to be able to fund approximately 4,500 beneficiaries over the next year.
With the donation, programmes like NEU PC Plus, Home Access and the new Mobile Access for Seniors can be funded.
Mr Iswaran commended the various companies and individuals for collaborating with the Government to help the elderly in Singapore become digitalised.
He said, “The national movement to accelerate Singapore’s digitalisation is gaining strong momentum. Working together, we are now focusing our efforts to understand and address the concerns of different segments of our society, including seniors and hawkers. Everyone can play a part to make a meaningful and material difference in Singapore’s digitalisation efforts.”
He ended off his interview with the reporters saying, “We welcome more to join us in our national digitalisation movement.”
As our parents and grandparents try to get more accustomed to the digital world, it doesn’t hurt for us to lend a helping hand and teach them certain basic skills.
While you may be frustrated that they are always asking questions that seem so basic to you, please do remember that they are trying their best and unlike you, they did not grow up with smartphones.
Let’s do our best in helping the elderly become more digitalised.
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