The thought of teaching senior citizens, many of whom are in their late 80’s, how to navigate a computer, let alone the internet, sounds more like a punishment than a reward. Why anyone at that age would willingly subject themselves to such an ominous learning curve would make no sense to most elderly people, but to these seniors, the motivation of reconnecting with family members and loved ones is much stronger than updating their social media status. Director Saffron Cassaday documents the heartwarming journey of seniors learning all about the internet in the film Cyber-Seniors, a comedic story that is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Other seniors get confused when they can’t access their email after typing “www.email.com” into the search browser.
In the world of these senior citizens, letters are written by hand, so the very thought of sending an email is mind-boggling. Luckily, there’s now a program called Cyber Seniors in which teenage students sign up to guide the elderly in navigating the web. The comedic moments are organic; 88-year-old Shura is awestruck that she can “chat” with fellow Cyber Senior Ellard, 89, on Facebook. 76-year-old Annette is only concerned with dating websites and sets up a profile right away. Other seniors get confused when they can’t access their email after typing “www.email.com” into the search browser.
To engage this group, a video competition is created to see who can get the most views on YouTube. With the help of their teenage mentors, the seniors set out to make a video based on what is important to them. 93-year-old Marion channels her inner Snoop Dogg and makes a rap music video about still having all of her teeth, as she sports a sideways baseball cap and all of her vintage art-deco necklaces. Shura loves to cook, and decides to demonstrate how she makes lunch, which consists of ironing her grilled cheese sandwiches (which actually works)! Other videos are just as funny, which include golf and exercise tips for seniors, how to pick up men, and gardening tricks.
Despite its amateur, low budget “look,” Cyber-Seniors should be taken seriously as a documentary. There are unexpected emotional moments that affect the director, unintentionally pointing out the importance of family and desire for connection. You will fall in love with the men and women and can’t help but laugh alongside them as they enter the vast world of technology for the first time. Cyber-Seniors is a heartwarming story that proves old dogs can learn new tricks, and then brag about it on Facebook.