New programs to bridge digital divide for elderly

Yang Meiping
Shanghai has taken a proactive approach to its aging residents, initiating programs to educate and train the elderly, in common smartphone apps and new digital technology.
Yang Meiping

Shanghai launched a campaign on Tuesday, promoting educational resources to help senior residents learn about digital tools.

The community-based program, which will be held from now until the end of the year, is expected to help elderly people better adapt to technological advancements and enjoy a more convenient life.

"Shanghai is a city built by the people and for the people. We must pay homage to the old generation, who now accounts for about one third of our population. It's the older generation who built the city, and it's our responsibility to care for them," said Ye Linlin, deputy director of the Shanghai Education Commission.

"New technology has made our lives more convenient. Scanning QR codes to rent bikes and paying digitally to shop online have made life easier. But many elderly people have a hard time adapting. The digital divide has caused a lot of inconvenience for them, as they don't know how to use these tools, and the learning-curve is so huge."

Several government departments in the city government, including the education commission, the civil affairs bureau and the ageing population office, launched the first campaign to promote digital education at local communities last year. Thirty-eight programs were awarded as "excellent brands" on Tuesday, for their achievements over the past year.

Those who received awards included the senior education program in Yuyuan Subdistrict in Huangpu District, in which 43 percent of its population is aged 60 or above.

Liu Jingjing, an official from the subdistrict said they've developed a team of volunteers who serve elderly residents individually, teaching them about digital tools like apps on smart phones.

The subdistrict has also created an area with real life simulations to teach elderly people how to use standard apps which are common in every day life.

The new campaign requires communities to further explore learning resources, and develop more educational programs for elderly residents.

It aims to create 100 "excellent brands" for senior education by 2025.

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