In this touching and humorous documentary, a group of Canadian elders are taught how to use the Internet by a convivial cadre of teenagers who serve as their mentors. Saffron Cassaday directs the film which was hatched by her teenage sisters as a high school project.
At first, most of the retirement crowd are skeptical about their ability to catch up and learn how to use computers at their ages, which range from 65 to 92. Their teachers recognize that there is perhaps the biggest generation gap ever regarding the use of technology. But everybody is game to try.
The seniors are excited when they discover how they can use the Internet to communicate with family and friends. Early lessons focus on how to turn a computer on and get online. They move on to using email and creating Facebook accounts, delighting especially in sharing pictures. When Annette is friended by her grandchildren, she has some interesting comments on this peak into their lives. Ellard uses Skype to reconnect with his adopted daughter he hasn't seen in years. Several women enjoy singing along to YouTube videos of the "Hallelujah Chorus."
While there is increasing criticism of the commercialization of the Internet, Cyber-Seniors affirms this technological tool's central value as a vehicle for keeping people — especially loved ones — connected to each other. Years ago, extended families lived in the same town or close by but today grandparents, fathers and mothers, and youth are spread out around the country and beyond. Now they can talk via Skype and share stories easily.
One of the high-points in Cyber-Seniors is watching the delight and enthusiasm of 89-year-old Shura who is encouraged by her mentor to create a YouTube cooking video. When Marion declares that she is 92 and still has all her teeth, her mentor turns her statement into a rap song for their video. Soon a dozen other seniors are making videos for a competition to see who can get the most "likes." (You can see their videos at the Cyber Seniors Corner YouTube channel.) They share what makes their lives full — from regular exercise to gardening, travel, friendship, and having a purpose.
This documentary proves that you can most definitely teach old people new tricks, and we all can enjoy witnessing the process.
Special features on the DVD include director's commentary; an interview with the Cyber-Seniors founders; deleted scene ("90-Year-Old Women Discovers Google Earth"); and a discount coupon for 15% off online merchandise.