I'm a digital native who thought I knew everything about the internet and all things digital - here are 5 surprising things I learnt in a weekend

I'm a digital native who thought I knew everything about the internet and all things digital - here are 5 surprising things I learnt in a weekend
PHOTO: AsiaOne

Being a digital native, you'd think that when it comes to technology, the internet and all things digital, I'd be pretty familiar with it all, or at least know enough to get by.

That was until I went to the Digital for Life Festival. I had no expectations, thinking there was nothing I could learn from it - how wrong was I.

An initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, the Digital for Life Festival was organised to bring the Digital for Life movement to the community. The nine-day Festival was held onsite at multiple locations islandwide including Hearbeat@Bedok and Enabling Village, as well as online.

Here are five things I learned from various workshop trainers and industry experts in just the two days I was there.

Read on and you might learn something too!

You can 'give' your unused data away to do good

Monthly subscription to your 100GB data plan is almost up, but you've only used 30GB of it this month? Don't let it go to waste - you can actually donate the rest away.

To further mobilise the community to step forward and help the vulnerable segments, the public can pledge their support in the Data for All initiative. Mobile data lines worth up to $3 million will be provided to 30,000 children, youth and seniors from low-income families, as well as persons with disabilities and their caregivers.

This collective effort is made possible by M1, Gomo by Singtel and giga! by Starhub, together with seven public and people partners which includes community partners like Lions Befrienders, Ministry of Social and Family Development's Community Link (ComLink), NTUC Health, and more.

Other than pledging your unused data, you can also support the initiative in other ways. Find out more from this website.

There's an app out there to help you optimise credit card decisions

We all know that someone who just knows which card is the best to use for each specific scenario, but if you don't have that someone to consult, consider CardsPal for your card management needs.

Volunteers manning the Standard Chartered/CardsPal booth at the Digital for Life Festival were more than happy to point out differences between their app and other third-party websites that offer gifts and deals that come with credit card applications.

Instead of choosing what card you want to apply for based on the cash-back guarantees and gifts these websites provide, CardsPal begins assisting from the moment you decide what item you want to buy, showing you the best cards to use for the most cash-back value.


If you don't already have that credit card, you can apply through CardsPal as well - although the gifts you get for applying through CardsPal may be different from other third-party websites.

As an added bonus, CardsPal also has a deal marketplace, showing you the best deals for the items you want to buy - you just need to purchase their vouchers and go to the merchant website or in-store to exchange them.

Dealing with banking services, credit cards and financial decisions are all things that I'll have to do more as I get older, so CardsPal was certainly a good app to learn about at the Festival.

Technology is made inclusive now that no one is left behind

Admittedly, dealing with digital technology and surfing the web is a difficult thing to do when you're lacking key senses - in particular, your sense of sight.

However, there are ways to work around low vision and visual impairments that I would have never thought existed, and they're much more accessible than you might think.

It is through a smartphone - a piece of technology that has gone beyond its purpose for communication and become inseparable for most of us.

Smartphone accessibility features such as Apple VoiceOver and Talk Back on Android now enable users to interact with their devices in a non-visual manner.

Moreover, there are voice guidance apps like Microsoft's Seeing AI (iOS) and Tuat Corp's Sullivan Lite (Android) that can provide visual aids about information perceived via the smartphone's camera, through Artificial Intelligence (AI) software capable of digesting visuals and translating them into speech in real-time.


These apps are capable of reading not just things on your screens, but also the world around you.

That AI technology capable of this is quite a feat to behold, and as much as most of us are fortunate enough to have our sense of sight, learning and sharing about this app might just help someone else in the long run.

Digital natives can also fall prey to scams

If this wasn't already clear with how frequent NFT and cryptocurrency scams have been happening recently, then the presentation by POSB Bank and The Straits Times' booth on scams certainly drove the point home.

The presenter from POSB gave a brief overview of some of the many scams that we may find ourselves targeted by, some of them, like love scams, have happened to youth recently. In fact, it happened so often that The Straits Times listed scams by "online lovers" as their top 10 scam variants in 2021.

If even tech-savvy youth can be fooled, then what of the elderly, who may even find difficulty using their smartphones?

While there have been attempts made by various companies to help the elderly along, such as POSB's simple mode feature that I didn't know existed, the true takeaway from the Festival was the depth of scams and how broadly they operate.

Fret not, however, not all is lost. I've found out that institutes of higher education such as the Singapore Institute of Technology intend to run compulsory modules on digital literacy.

Additionally, the Singapore Police Force's Anti-Scam Command has partnered with "over 60 institutions, including banks, telcos and cryptocurrency houses" to combat scams and keep people safe, according to The Straits Times' booth.

Online usage and safety doesn't come naturally to digital natives

Children are exposed to screens and the digital space at a young age, while youths spend a large part of their time online, and hence are more often than not, exposed to more online harms such as child grooming, cyberbullying and doxing.

So when I learned some healthy screen habits from SG Families' Brain Defence webinar, I realised just how important it was to control media consumption for children - "if we don't control our screen time, it controls us".


And to help out with doing just that, there are many options within the common entertainment platforms for children these days, such as Netflix or TikTok.

A little tip I learned from Netflix representatives at the Festival, for instance, is that aside from basic parental controls such as their variable age restriction options and profile maturity ratings, Netflix also has the added option of completely removing certain titles from their library - titles wouldn't just be filtered out, they would be entirely inaccessible on that account.

Additionally, the ubiquitous TikTok, known for viral cat videos, people dancing and funny reaction videos, also has tools to help their users - a new, lesser-known initiative: TikTok's Wellness Hub.

The Hub grants access to a wide array of self-help videos, ranging from grounding techniques to calm yourself to anecdotes and advice about cyberbullying, perfect for a little pick-me-up if the kid needs it.

So keep an eye out for functions within the entertainment apps that you let the kids use, because sometimes less screen time - paired with the right content for viewing - can mean so much more for the child.

Even if you do think you know everything about the internet, technology and all things digital, keep in mind that that may not be true for all.

While this year's Digital for Life Festival has since concluded, there is still more to be done to enrich and empower the youth, elderly, and everyone in between with all things digital through the movement. Find out other ways you can contribute here.

Need more resources? You can also check out Media Literacy Council.

​​This article is brought to you in partnership with Infocomm Media Development Authority.


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