For Lilia Cos, a senior citizen from Manila, life has not been quite the same since she first discovered how to use a smartphone and social media.
“After that first session, I kept on using Facebook. I asked my kids and my grandkids to help me learn more about it,” said Nanay Lilia, one of the seniors who joined the latest Smart Millenniors session in Brgy 672 in Paco, Manila.
“Millenniors” is a play on the words “millennials”, who are known to be tech savvy, and “seniors”. The goal of the program is to teach technology to the elderly, specifically about smartphones, mobile data and social media.
In the first two sessions, the seniors learned about the basics of smartphones and mobile data, and were assisted by senior high students from Adamson University in setting up their Facebook accounts and uploading selfies, creating group chats on Messenger and searching for their favorite shows and videos on YouTube.
“Being able to use Messenger is a big help. With it, I can talk to family members abroad, and my friends in Laguna and Cavite. We can chat even if they’re far away,” Nanay Lilia said. “Just last night, I was up late because I was talking to my siblings in Japan and Germany. It was so fun—no matter where they are, as long as we are in one group chat, we can talk about the same things,” she added.
For Adamson student-volunteer Marielle Tuazon, being able to teach senior citizens about technology was an exciting and enlightening experience.
“I think seniors often feel left out. Their grandkids are always on their phones, they don’t talk. With this program, I hope we’ll be able to help them connect better, not only with their grandchildren, but with their other relatives as well,” Tuazon said.
Her classmate Shun Camannong agreed. “This is a big help for them to be closer to their families and stay connected with them, even if they are separated by long distances,” he said.
Patience, understanding key
For Tuazon and Cammanong, patience and understanding are key elements in facilitating learning among seniors.
“It is also important that you want them to learn, so you can really connect with them and help them,” said Tuazon.
“Always stay respectful and not be quick to judge them,” said Camannong. “Like us, they are also always looking for new things to learn to improve their lives. Listen to what they’re saying, and be open to their questions,” he said.
Indeed, Nanay Lilia is looking forward to more learnings. “I hope the future sessions bring even more knowledge,” she said. “I know there is still much left to learn.”
The Smart Millenniors program is part of Smart’s efforts to make technology more inclusive and accessible to more Filipinos.
Apart from the pilot session with seniors in Brgy 734 in Paco, Manila last year, the Smart Millenniors program was also held in Cebu last month with members of the Philippine Association of Retired Persons, in cooperation with EduStudio and Coalition for Better Education.
“We are getting closer to our goal of making Internet truly for all, as more seniors participate in the Smart Millenniors program,” said Smart Public Affairs head Ramon Isberto. “As the world becomes increasingly digital, we are working to make sure that nobody gets left behind.”
“With this program, Smart is reiterating its commitment to bring digital learning to everyone, no matter their age,” said Stephanie Orlino, Smart Community Partnerships senior manager. “We look forward to partnering with more communities for this initiative.”