Documentary Shows How Cyberspace Can Help Bridge Generational Divide

In “Cyber-Seniors,” a group of seniors are guided by teenagers through the world of social media and YouTube.
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In “Cyber-Seniors,” a group of seniors are guided by teenagers through the world of social media and YouTube.

Facebooking and making YouTube videos. They’re brand new ways to cross the generational divide, according to “Cyber-Seniors,” a documentary that follows a group of seniors at two Toronto retirement communities and their teenage guides on a journey through cyberspace.

The movie features the transformation of a sweet, grandmotherly-type named Marion into a rapper called “O.G. Teeth.” It also highlights an elderly charmer called Sherry who becomes obsessed with cooking tutorials on YouTube.

The viewer is brought along for this journey through Facebook friend requests and messaging and competitiveness; a contest ensues to see which senior can get the most hits on their YouTube video. What we really see, however, is location becoming irrelevant as seniors connect with their grandchildren online via Skype and generational barriers collapsing as young and old alike have their “funny bones” tickled throughout their journey.

The Los Angeles Times describes the movie as “affable and optimistic” in its story of a team of enterprising teenagers to get this “technology-averse older generation to sign on, log in and start friending.” The New York Times calls it a “likeable intergenerational tale with a bit of unexpected pathos.”

The movie, which was directed by Saffron Cassaday, came about because of a high school project launched by her two sisters Macaulee and Kascha, according to the movie’s website. Saffron’s two sisters had witnessed for themselves the transformation of their grandparents’ lives after the seniors learned how to navigate on the Internet. After brief tutorials, their grandparents continued to keep in touch several times a week by e-mail, Facebook and Skype. With this as their inspiration, Macaulee and Kascha brought the Cyber-Seniors program to the two retirement communities in Toronto where the documentary was filmed.

“Cyber-Seniors,” which was released in Los Angeles and New York City in May 2014, is available for digital download. Other viewing options are available on the movie’s website.

Top photo courtesy of the “Cyber-Seniors” Facebook page