These seniors had never used the Internet. What happened when teens offered to teach them?
Teen sisters Macaulee and Kascha Cassaday knew firsthand that elderly folks could rock new technology. Their own grandparents kept in touch several times a week despite living in another city by learning basic Internet skills.
This got them thinking: How could they help other seniors do the same?
So they created the "Cyber-Seniors" program.
Their older sister, Director Saffron Cassaday, recognized the opportunity to tell a story and decided to film the program.
The sisters recruited friends to teach a group of seniors at a local retirement home how to use the internet. Twice a week, the teens would help the seniors learn to use the Internet for the first time.
...It was a little daunting.
Did you know that using the Internet is actually good for seniors?
It's true! Internet usage has been linked to a 20% decrease in depression in the elderly, and it can enhance cognitive function.
Whether Grandma knows it or not, getting online could make her happier and sharper.
It might help their health, but staying connected was what they really came to learn.
With kids and grandkids living busy lives, sometimes across the state or even on the other side of the country, these seniors wanted to use the Internet to keep in touch with the ones they love.
"They see a program like this and they think it's an opportunity to get in touch with their grandkids and to communicate."
The teens taught them how to use video chat programs like Skype, how to stay in touch using social media, how to use mobile technology, and more. Each retiree had a variety of things they wanted to learn, from email to online games. Whatever interested them, a teen volunteer showed up twice a week to help them learn it.
One thing that interested a lot of the seniors was YouTube. So one teen suggested that he and his elderly "student" make a video of their own.
This sparked an unplanned YouTube video-making competition on the side.
The goal: to see who could get the most hits on their original YouTube creations.
One senior loved watching cooking tutorials, so her teen teacher brainstormed a cooking video for her to make. Another teen suggested a music video ... a rap music video. (It's actually great.)
Plus, the seniors got to exercise their new Internet skills to promote their videos.
But most importantly, the seniors learned new skills that brought them closer to their loved ones.
The teen volunteers even had family members thank them for helping the seniors find new and better ways to stay in touch.
Maybe you want to start a Cyber-Seniors program of your own?
The documentary's website provides everything you need, from downloadable resources to registering your group. You can learn exactly how to do it all right here.
Their website features more about the documentary, including info about the seniors and teens themselves. Or you can check out the trailer right here: