IT helpline for seniors launched

SINGAPORE - Ms Sim Ah Siew, 65, bought a brand-new Toshiba laptop at an IT event last year but it has been gathering dust at home ever since.

Her initial enthusiasm to learn the basics of information technology soon faded as she did not know how to navigate the myriad of websites online by using her laptop.

"I was afraid of damaging it if I tried, and there was no one I could ask for help as my children are all busy at work," said the cleaner in Mandarin.

To help seniors like her, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore partnered the Organisation of Senior Volunteers (RSVP) and the Council for Third Age to launch an IT helpline last Saturday.

The Silver IT Care Helpline is one of several initiatives launched by Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Communications and Information as well as Education, at the annual Silver Infocomm Day, which encourages the elderly to embrace technology.

From next month, the first-of-its-kind hotline will enable seniors who have technology problems and queries to call and receive step-by-step guidance on basic troubleshooting.

If they need further help, they can take their faulty computers to RSVP in Bishan Junction 8 for fellow seniors to repair.

"Apart from being able to communicate in dialect, their fellow seniors may be more patient with them as they understand their limitations," said Mr Avadhani Popuri Nageswara, 81.

The RSVP board member is one of the 20 seniors so far who have been trained as call agents. Besides English and Mandarin, they are able to converse in Teochew, Cantonese and Hokkien.

Apart from the hotline, two new infocomm courses have also been introduced.

Seniors will be able to learn to perform tasks such as managing their Central Provident Fund accounts and applying for passports online.

They will also be taught how to use cloud computing enabled services like Dropbox to send and share photographs with their loved ones.

Since the Silver Infocomm Initiative was launched in 2007, more than 77,000 IT training places have been filled. There has also been an increase in the number of hot spots that provide free Internet access to the elderly.

The week-long Silver Infocomm Day, which kicked off at ITE College Central last Saturday, is expected to draw 5,000 participants.

When to call

The Silver IT Care Helpline (6485-6113 and 6485-6134) will begin operating on Oct 1, from 10am to 4pm, Mondays to Fridays.

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