Parliament Sitting on 25 February 2021
QUESTION 4 FOR ORAL ANSWER
*4. Dr Wan Rizal: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) whether the influence of online falsehood differs according to age groups; and (b) whether there are targeted plans to reach out to seniors in developing their digital and media literacy in combating deliberate online falsehoods.
A study conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies in 2020 found that more than two thirds of the participants in the study, from all demographics, had difficulty differentiating misinformation from real news reports. While different age groups might have different media and information consumption habits, no age group is immune to misinformation. Even highly literate and savvy participants, including the young and those with tertiary education, were susceptible.
2. The study underscores the importance of targeted efforts to strengthen digital literacy among different segments of society. The Government and our partners have several initiatives aimed at this, such as the National Library Board’s S.U.R.E. (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate) programme, and the Media Literacy Council’s Better Internet Campaign.
3. But we recognise that seniors, in particular, continue to face challenges navigating novel and unfamiliar digital technologies. Hence in May 2020, we set up the Singapore Digital Office (SDO) to accelerate efforts to equip every individual, including our seniors, with digital tools and skills. The SDO has since established its presence in 55 community hubs at community centres and libraries island-wide, where Digital Ambassadors teach seniors how to use features on their smartphones, apps, and so on. The expansion of this presence on the ground, providing support in-person, significantly increases our engagement with seniors.
4. The Government is fully committed to building on these efforts to help seniors participate meaningfully in digital life and keep themselves safe online.