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Digital tools may be the key to longer life

1 in 2 are confident they will be able to live to 100.

Digital tools are an important factor to live to 100, according to respondents from Prudential Singapore’s latest survey.

In its recently released Digital for 100: Harnessing technology for longer lifespans report, Prudential revealed that one in two (54%) are convinced that they can live up to 100 and be able to financially fund such long life.

This is substantially higher than 29% of Singaporeans last year. This improvement in outlook could be due at least partly to Singapore’s strong economic performance in 2021 and 2022, and its success in containing new covid outbreaks in the past year. 

“This improvement in outlook could be due at least partly to Singapore’s strong economic performance in 2021 and 2022, and its success in containing new covid outbreaks in the past year,” the report said.

Confidence in digital tools

The report reveals that the key to this confidence is digital tools.  Over half (54%) of respondents say that mobile devices and apps are the most important tools they have to help them live well for longer and get the most out of life.

Kevin Lam, head, UOB TMRW and group digital banking, also attributes the respondents’ relatively positive outlook to a high level of financial literacy among citizens and to the success of many people in strengthening their financial positions during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Singaporeans' proficiency in utilising technology also impacted their perspective about living longer. In fact, 42% of respondents said they feel ready to live to 100 from a health perspective.

This is because digital health technologies are instrumental in encouraging many Singaporeans to proactively strive to improve or at least maintain their fitness levels and lead healthy lifestyles. 

More than seven out of 10 respondents rate themselves good or excellent when using mobile health apps, such as those that measure calorie intake, monitor physical activity levels, or manage diabetes.

Even more (76%) claim such proficiency with wearable fitness trackers—used, amongst other things, to count steps taken and determine distances of walks or jogs. Most of the respondents (72%) also put to good use wearable monitors that gauge such things as heart rate, oxygen level and quality of sleep.

Complexity and security concerns

Digital tool use for Singaporeans do not come without challenges. According to Prudential, proficiency is not the same as comfort or ease. Technology based anxiety is amongst a great concern for many citizens with 40% saying using digital technologies creates more anxiety than enjoyment.

According to Lim Sun Sun, professor of communication and technology at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, for younger Singaporeans, the anxiety comes from being overconnected and being overwhelmed by all kinds of notifications. For other folks, the complexity of using some technologies can cause considerable stress, particularly when apps or devices don’t work the way people want them to.

Going by numbers, almost half of respondents in Prudential’s survey say that modern digital technologies have become increasingly complex for them. By age, 55 to 65 year-olds (52%) that most digital tools are ‘complex and stressful’. This is lower than those ages 25 to 34 at 47%. However, 55% of the age group of 35 to 44 complained about digital technologies being complex and stressful for them the most, revealing that device apps can be difficult for all ages.

The next steps

Prudential said the results of the survey clearly shows that there are no laggards when it comes to putting digital technology to use to improve the lives of Singaporeans.

The government deserves credit for this in the digital initiatives it has taken, as does the private sector for the innovative finance and health technologies it has brought to market. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement in the efforts that government, business and civil society can undertake to better prepare citizens digitally for longevity. 

There three key areas to improve. First is digital inclusivity. Whether young or old, people can still turn away from certain technologies if they are not user-friendly.

Prudential suggests that embedding user-intuitive designs must be the default for any new health or finance app or device.

This is primarily an imperative for technology businesses and application developers, but public-sector organisations can also advocate for it. 

Another area is personalisation. “According to our interviewees, consumers in Singapore want the information and advice they receive from apps to be increasingly tailored to their specific age, physical or financial profiles. Building AI (artificial intelligence) into such apps is necessary to advance such personalisation,” Prudential said.

Last is training. The government can help combat complexity by improving the digital training its institutions offer to the public like the training for the elderly at the community level would be more effective by being less generic and more tailored to specific apps or device models. Better training can also help such groups protect themselves against misinformation and online scams.

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