Dr Tan Yun Yi – Pusat Teknologi Pengajaran dan Multimedia

PETALING JAYA: Two years ago, when Dr Tan Yun Yi returned to Malaysia after completing her studies in Hong Kong, she was devastated to see that cybercrime cases targeting senior citizens were on the rise.

Deciding that something must be done to help them improve their digital literacy, she set up Bengkel Teknologi Senior in 2019 at the Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), where she is a lecturer.

The two-day programme offered free technology classes to Malaysian seniors over the age of 55.“We teach them the fundamentals of cybersecurity so they could be more cautious and aware of online scams and threats.

“They are also introduced to creative modules such as digital graphics, digital photography, video production and video editing, which as it turns out, they enjoyed the most.

“In addition, they are also exposed to the usage of mobile apps that could improve their social independence such as ride hailing, food ordering, online shopping, GPS navigation and medical apps, ” said the Kelantan-born Tan in an interview.

She said each programme was designed to have a maximum of 20 participants, and priority would be given to seniors from B40 families or those living alone or far from the younger generation.

Before setting up Bengkel Teknologi Senior, the 32-year-old started her involvement with the senior citizen community when she was pursuing her PhD studies in Hong Kong.

“I would visit nursing homes to keep the seniors company and talk to them. I also visited senior citizens living alone in public housing, ” she said.

In one of her visits, Tan met a wheelchair-bound senior who lived alone and spent most of her time sitting in her living room, listening to the radio.

Although the woman was happy to meet Tan, she admitted that growing old meant losing the independence to do things on her own.

“She felt her days were very long and meaningless as she had to rely on social workers to send her food daily because she was unable to go out due to her weak legs.

“Sometimes, she also had to stay hungry a little longer when social workers were late due to unforeseen circumstances, ” she related.

Tan shared with her the convenience of digital services and how it could help her to regain her independence.

“I told her that food could be delivered to her doorstep via food delivery apps and also e-hailing service.

“She looked very interested to learn more but told me that no one would have the patience to teach old folks like her, ” said Tan.