Can WhatsApp and WeChat really replace family visits and showing the elderly we care?

  • Messaging apps can be useful for family members who can’t otherwise keep in touch, but there’s no excuse for not visiting family who live nearby
PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2018, 5:01pm

I am writing in response to the article, “Key to a happy Hong Kong family could be a mobile messaging group on WhatsApp or WeChat” (November 10).

The article refers to a study by the University of Hong Kong regarding the trend of people using their mobile phone to chat or share updates with their family and how it can enhance their happiness. This trend of group messaging within the family is increasing, and people use their mobile phones more frequently to chat with close relatives via online WhatsApp or WeChat groups, a study by HKU’s School of Public Health has revealed.

However, the researchers also emphasised the need to teach the elderly to use such apps, as more than more than 45 per cent of the 1,638 survey respondents over 65 years old said they were not in a family messaging group.

Smartphone apps can help people and families keep in touch, for sure, but it would be ridiculous for people to prefer phone chats over chatting face-to-face. There is a lack of human interaction when you go online to express your feelings.

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Chatting online can benefit some kinds of people, such as those who work away from home or overseas. They can’t see their family all the time, so messaging apps are a good way to connect. However, why should people who live in Hong Kong use WhatsApp or WeChat to care for their family and to stay in touch?

Take action directly, go visit them and have a meal together. Visit the elderly frequently: if they don’t know how to use mobile apps, are we going to just ignore them?

Face-to-face interaction is much more important and better than online chatting. Care for people with concrete action instead of typing words and acting like you have done something.

Kris Wong, Tiu Keng Leng