The following blog post was written by Paul Nyhan, a staff writer with the Microsoft Accessibility Blog. Paul is a 20-year journalism veteran who has written extensively about disability issues.
Technology can be a powerful tool for seniors, one that connects them with family and friends scattered around the country and the world.
But, seniors, like many of us, sometimes need help figuring out how to use technology that seems to be constantly changing.
The new film “Cyber Seniors” tells the story of a group of Canadian high school students who decided to help members of an assisted living center not only figure out technology, but connect through Skype, Facebook, and the Internet.
By learning how to use the Internet great grandparents talked with their great grandchildren for the first time. Seniors checked in with their adult children, who were able to see how their aging parents were doing, according to the film’s director Saffron Cassaday.
“And Skype was the easiest and most enjoyable way for them to connect with those family members. The seniors found it quite magical,” Cassaday wrote in an email. “It was like a virtual-visit for them, and you could just tell it was the best part of their day.”
The film grew from the experiences of Cassaday and her two high-school age sisters, Macaulee and Kascha, who saw how technology empowered their grandparents.
After learning some basic skills, their grandparents were in touch several times a week by email, Facebook and Skype. The Internet was instrumental in keeping their family connected despite busy schedules and living in different cities. — “Cyber Seniors, Connecting Generations: The Inspiration.”
Their grandparents’ success inspired Cassaday’s two younger sisters to launch a mentoring program to help seniors at an assisted living center in Toronto learn how to use the Internet. Once Saffron Cassaday saw the power and potential in their project she decided to make the film.
At its heart, “Cyber Seniors” is about closing generation and digital gaps in ways that benefit the young and old. As the digital world becomes a virtual gathering place, seniors should have the same access as everyone else, and technology should make their access easier, not harder. This film shows how one group of high school students made that happen.
But, “Cyber Seniors” is more than a helpful and humorous film. The filmmaker and her family want it to become a movement of “intergenerational connections” and mentors who bridge “the technology gap by empowering older adults to use technology to expand their social and physical worlds.”
Check it out. If you are interested you can join the movement on the film’s website.