Bringing the Internet to an offline generation

“Cyber-Seniors” is an inventive initiative for social change, making a strong impact through a deceptively simple idea. The documentary film of the same name, which played during this year’s Victoria Film Festival, showcases how generation gaps may be bridged with the help of information technology.

It all started with one family. When 19-year-old Kascha Cassaday and her 16-year-old sister, Macaulee, saw how their grandparents benefited as a result of learning a few basic Internet skills, they decided to launch a project that would help other seniors in their community. Older sister Saffron Cassaday is Cyber-Seniors’ director. “It really changed my grandparents’ lives and our relationship with them,” she told Shaw TV Victoria. “So my sisters decided to go into retirement residences and teach others how to get online.”

With the original intent of creating a promotional video for the project, Saffron went to retirement residences with her sisters and soon found that there was much more to it than she had originally thought. Through learning how to use the Internet, the seniors were able to connect with their busy or distant families far more easily and thoroughly than would be possible using occasional letters or phone conversations.

The film centres around a group of youth mentors who visit the seniors’ residences to teach them various skills, including posting and browsing pictures on Facebook, searching videos on YouTube, and even playing games like Minecraft and Angry Birds. The most important skill they wanted to learn, however, was how to use email.

Not long into the project, 88-year-old Shura Eadie was inspired to create her own YouTube video, in which she showed the world how to make grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron and corn on the cob in a kettle. The video sparked a lively competition in her retirement residence. More and more residents created their own videos, vying for hits by sharing their wisdom, hidden talents, and life lessons. Upping the ante, a 93-year-old woman referred to as Marion K. even made a video rapping about how she still had all her O.G. (Original Grandma) teeth.

You can find these and other awesome videos on the project’s YouTube channel, cyberseniorscorner. To get involved in the Cyber-Seniors—Connecting Generations campaign and learn how to become a mentor to your local seniors, visit cyberseniorsdocumentary.com

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