What would your grandmother say if you asked her to be your friend on Facebook? Would your teenage daughter or granddaughter know what a typewriter looks like?
Technology has changed a lot in the past few decades and although lots of seniors are tech-savvy, many more face challenges when trying to keep up .
Closing the growing generation gap is the topic of a documentary film called Cyber Seniors, which follows a group of seniors as they make their first foray into the Internet under the guidance of teenage mentors. Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) and the Yukon Film Society will co-host a screening of the film in Whitehorse on Friday December 5.
Mary Louise Fournier, office coordinator at the Seniors Information Centre, says that in today’s digital era, not knowing how to use a computer or the Internet can be debilitating for seniors .
“ If a person asks for proof of citizenship, which you need to get old age security, their two options are to pay online or to do this complicated rigmarole with paperwork,” says Fournier. “Even paying online is kind of complicated for someone like me, who’s done lots of work on computers.”
Fournier says that seniors from low – income backgrounds and those aged 70 and above are especially vulnerable .
“ Older seniors are not at all computer literate or computer savvy,” explains Fournier. “Some are not interested in learning. Others are, but don’t have the financial ability to purchase computers or Internet access.”
Many seniors don’t even know how to turn on a computer, says Fournier, and admitting that can be intimidating or embarrassing.
“ They need a safe and comfortable space where they’re not going to feel judgment or ridiculed, so they can be mentored or tutored,” says Fournier.
The film Cyber Seniors illustrates a unique model that allows seniors to gain basic computer, Internet , and social media skills through the guidance of teenagers.
Fournier sees lots of potential in developing partnerships between seniors and youth. Many seniors are going through big a transition in their lives, and teenagers can relate to that.
“ When you go from being a working active person to going to empty nest retirement, you’re losing friends, feeling isolated, and feeling misunderstood , ” says Fournier. “These are similar feelings to youth. Seniors and youth are shown to work very well together.”
BYTE and the Yukon Film Society hope that this film inspires youth and seniors in Whitehorse to work together more often .
“ We think it would be very empowering for young people to share their digital skills with seniors and elders,” says BYTE’s Executive Director Chris Rider. “It’s another way we can help foster positive digital citizenship among young people.”
The screening will take place at 7:30 p . m . at the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse on Friday, December 5. Admission is by donation and free snacks will be available.