By: Jeraldine Phneah
I am sad to hear that Mediacorp will no longer be offering it’s Teletext service this month.
This service is currently being used by many senior citizens who rely on it to check the daily news, TV programmes schedules and lottery results. Teletext to them is similar to how our youths depend on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Although there is an increase in the availability of alternative online sites for information, many elderly do not access to these online outlets.
Firstly, educational attainment and income are barriers in preventing them from mastering these new technology.
In his letter to The Straits Times “Never too old to learn new technology”, Mr. Lim Chan Kong shared his experience with learning how to use social media and that one is never too old to learn new things.
I applaud him for his positive attitude. However, he belongs to a group of privileged few elderly members who hail from educated backgrounds. Thus, it would be easier for them to utilize these digital platforms easily as compared to the other significant proportion who struggle with picking up these new skills due to barriers such as educational attainment, health and income.
A survey by the Ministry of Social and Family Development revealed in their State of the Elderly in Singapore 2008/2009 report that 85.8 percent of our senior citizens do not have secondary education and above. If they have a weak grasp of the English language, they will definitely struggle with using social media.
A 2010 survey by the Institute of Policy Studies revealed that one-fifth of the elderly in Singapore does not have enough for daily living. As such, I believe many of them may not be able to afford Internet services or laptops and ipads.
Furthermore, many elderly have vision problems and are unable to use digital devices. This is due to their small font and small screen as compared to bigger fonts on the television.
Retaining the teletext has several benefits for the elderly as it provides them with both intellectual stimulation and entertainment.
My grandfather and his friends used Teletext to monitor their stocks and shares prices daily. This service gives them something to do during the day time when all of us are busy working or at school.
Teletext is also very important for their mental stimulation and helps them stay involved in society. Through keeping their brain active, the elderly will be less vulnerable to dementia.
The ban on dialects on local television and radio have already isolated several elderly members from society and their own families. I hope that they will not be isolated further through the discontinuation of this Teletext service.
When the Prime Minister revealed plans to help the elderly Singaporeans pay their Medishield Life Premiums, he described the elderly as our “Pioneer Generation” whom we should recognize and be grateful towards for their contributions to Singapore.
I hope that the government will keep this service as a small token of appreciation of those who have helped carry the burden of nation building in our earlier years.