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#SmartMillenniors: Smart empowers senior citizens through tech

by Smart Communications, Inc. | Sep 18, 2017
[18 September 2017] For 80-year-old Virginia Pangilinan, a resident of Brgy 734 in Paco, Manila, going around to see her siblings is almost impossible.

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Nanay Virginia, 80, is assisted by a volunteer from Adamson University during the Smart Millenniors program.

“I have a sister in Cavite but we don’t see each other because travel is already difficult for me. It’s hard to go up and down buses and jeepneys at my age,” she explained. “It’s the same with her—my sister can’t come to me because her legs are already weak.”

But there is hope for Nanay Virginia, who, with a dozen of her senior citizen neighbors in Brgy 734, attended the first Smart “Millenniors” session in their barangay, where they learned how to use smartphones, take selfies, and create Facebook accounts using mobile data.

“Now, with the use of smartphones, we can see each other, talk to each other. That makes me happy,” she said. “I hope my other relatives also have Facebook. Maybe we can also see and talk to each other there,” she added.

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The Smart Millenniors program aims to teach senior citizens about the basics of smartphones.

‘Millenniors’

Smart’s “Millenniors” program—a play on the words “millennials”, who are known to be tech savvy, and “seniors”—aims to teach technology to the elderly. The first session, launched in partnership with Adamson University, taught the seniors about the basics of smartphones and mobile data, and helped them join Facebook.

Members of Smart’s Public Affairs team led the lecture, while student-volunteers from Adamson University’s Computer Science department and Adamson’s Integrated Community Extension Services sat with the elders to assist them in navigating their smartphones.

“I’m glad I attended this Millenniors session, because now I know how to use a touchscreen phone—before, I knew only how to use a keypad phone,” said 59-year-old Maria Paz Pangilinan, another participant. “What’s even nicer is that there are a lot of us elderly who were here to learn together. I’m thankful for this experience,” she added.

“My grandchildren are already updated with technology. After attending this program, I can say I’m more confident now that I can keep up with them,” Nanay Paz added, laughing. “When I get home after our program, I can tell my grandchildren, ‘Here comes Mamu! I now know about these ‘millennial’ things you always talk about! I can now keep up with you!’”

“The Smart Millenniors program is a big gift to our barangay,” said Brgy 734 chair Rosario Gonzales. “I was very happy to see the seniors of our community learning about technology.”

Age doesn’t matter in learning

For Adamson volunteer Mary Lorraine Mae Laure, 3rd year Computer Science student, the session reminded her a lot about teaching her own grandmother about the basics of texting. “I understood the difficulties they faced, because my lola also faced the same challenges,” said Laure.

“The best part of the session was seeing them smile. I saw how happy they were to be introduced to Facebook,” she added.

Achris Navarro, faculty at Adamson’s Computer Science department who led the Adamson volunteers, said what touched her the most during the program was the eagerness of the participants to learn. “I realized that age really does not matter in learning. Anyone at any age can learn about technology,” she said.

Laure said that after assisting the participants throughout the program, she realized how hard smartphones can be for the elderly. “As a computer science student, I hope to be able to help the elderly by making a phone for them, one that is easier to navigate, with standard apps that they need for information and communication,” she said.

Digital learning for all—including seniors

“My experience with our Millenniors has motivated me to do more applications for seniors,” said Navarro. “These days, most apps are geared toward Millennials. I will tell my students to not just create applications for Millennials, but for seniors as well. I hope we can make more applications for them, especially those that can make human interaction through technology easier for seniors,” she added.

"Through the Smart Millenniors program, we are saying that growing old does not mean getting left behind as the world goes digital,” said Smart Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto. “We are working to make technology is accessible to all, regardless of age.”

“With the Smart Millenniors program, Smart is reiterating its commitment to bring digital learning to everyone, regardless of age,” said Stephanie Orlino, Smart Community Partnerships senior manager. “We look forward to touching more seniors with this initiative.” [END]