Centers offer classes to help seniors tap smartphones
China Daily

Wang Hongmei, a retired middle school teacher in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, said she really enjoys learning how to use smartphones at a community training center with her friends.

Community volunteers show the seniors online shopping in a community in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, on June 4, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua) 

"I felt lost most of the time when I started to use a smartphone," the 64-year-old said. "Though I'm more educated than many other people my age, I still cannot figure out how to use many apps."

She said that her children would teach her how to use the apps' functions if she asked, but sometimes she got nervous when they became impatient.

"I don't want to bother them, so sometimes I had to ask my little granddaughter for help. Even the little girl knows how to use the apps better. I envy those young people who can walk out the door without their wallet."

In Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu, more than 700 community training and learning centers have provided courses on how to use smartphones.

Seniors learn to use their phones for things like paying to ride buses and subways, paying bills for water and electricity or using QR health codes to gain entry to parks. Due to pandemic control measures, many places of interest require the visitors to scan a QR code for access.

Ye Qingtao, president of Gulou Open University in Nanjing, said that the school has provided a course on using apps since 2018.

"It's greatly welcomed among senior people," he said. "At the beginning, we just taught them how to use the WeChat app. With the rapid digitalization in recent years, we now teach more smartphone technologies to seniors, such as making appointments with doctors on apps, using QR code payment and shopping on apps."

He said the open university also teaches seniors how to avoid internet addiction, a problem that started as they got better at using the technologies.

"Seniors have more spare time than young people, so it's easy for them to become addicted to their phones. To solve the problem, we also teach them how to check the time they spend on their phones."

Ye added that many seniors also are learning how to avoid online fraud against the elderly and ways to make new friends at their community and learning centers.

According to the provincial Civil Affairs Department, Jiangsu had more than 18 million people aged 60 and older by the end of 2019, becoming a province with one of the fastest-aging populations in China.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China had more than 253 million people aged 60 and older, which accounted for 18.1 percent of the total population by the end of 2019.

People aged 65 and older accounted for 12.6 percent of the population, reaching 176 million by the end of 2019.