Seniors trooped to the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal National Shrine Parish (OLMMNSP) in Sucat, Muntinlupa City to learn more about smartphones, mobile data, and social media basics in the latest leg of the Smart Millenniors program in Metro Manila.
Assisted by the Vincentian parish youth ministry of OLMMNSP, the group of seniors transformed into wide-eyed schoolchildren as they began using social media apps on their smartphones. The small classroom setting became even more animated as they worked closely with church volunteers who were young enough to be their grandkids.
During the session, they learned how to open their respective Facebook user accounts; how to add their “classmates” as Facebook friends; how to take selfies with their volunteers and how to post these onto their FB walls; how to open a Messenger group chat and send their “hi, hello” messages, stickers, and emojis; and how to place video calls via Messenger.
Nicole Cuison, a youth volunteer, recounted her experience with gratitude, as it gave her and her fellow Vincentian parish youth ministry members the opportunity to make a direct impact on the lives of the seniors. “I felt the seniors’ eagerness to learn. Some of the seniors we assisted were thankful, because their own grandchildren don’t have the patience to teach them,” Nicole shared. “I am happy and fulfilled.”
Aiming to teach technology to senior citizens with the help of the youth, the Smart Millenniors program has reached senior communities in Manila, Marikina, Laguna, Bantayan, Cebu City, Argao, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos.
Millennior Belle Ramiro, head of the OLMMNSP commission on church workers, said she knew a bit about how to use chat apps like Viber and Messenger, and became familiar with mobile gaming because of her grandnephew.
After participating in the Smart Millenniors program, Belle became convinced of the importance of activities that develop more digital-savvy seniors, in addition to the normal social activities that their ministry organizes for them.
“Our seniors want to be ‘in’ because they want to be attuned to what their grandchildren are doing,” said Belle. “So when they heard about the Smart Millenniors program, they became excited to attend. We believe that this is not only for our seniors’ self-satisfaction but also their sense of connectedness with their families and friends in the digital world,” she added.
OLMMNSP has an active seniors’ ministry of over 100 members, mostly retirees, who serve in the parish as volunteers.
Aside from teaching the “young once” on how to ride the digital wave, Smart also emphasized the importance of internet safety and vigilance on social media, especially since senior citizens can be vulnerable to online scams, phishing attempts, and disinformation, among other dangers and risks online.
“Aside from teaching our Millenniors about the basics of social media and smartphones, what we also want to do through this program is to encourage our seniors to be better online citizens by being more critical of the information that they encounter and pass on,” said Smart Public Affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.
Nicole and the Vincentian youth group can now look forward to easier coordination with their senior counterparts now that they already know how to use their smartphones, social media and chat apps. “This will help greatly, especially when some cannot be physically present for meetings in church due to conflict in schedules,” said Nicole.
“Having patience and initiative to teach our elders is essential for younger persons like us,” Nicole added. “We should understand that it takes time for them to transition into ‘millennial stuff’. Our senior citizens are putting themselves out there to learn.”
Belle and the seniors of OLMMNSP are the latest additions to the growing ranks of tech- and social-media savvy Millenniors across the country. Launched by PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications in 2017, the program received an Award of Excellence at the 17th Philippine Quill Awards for its efforts in teaching seniors about technology and engaging the youth in their areas.
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