Web is bad for kids, but good for seniors?


Directed by Saffron Cassaday

Classification G; 75 min

Watching the lighthearted documentary Cyber Seniors, you might think China is missing a big opportunity to put all those Web junkies to work, helping their elders get online.

The film follows a small group of Toronto high-schoolers who went into seniors residences a few years ago to introduce octagenarians and nonagenarians to the wonders of Facebook and Skype. There’s an easygoing humour and spiky authenticity to their interactions that will ring familiar to anyone who has tried to help an elder embrace technology. Some of the pairings seem made for film, like a 19-year-old kid whose reassurance to a frisky gal that he’s available for help 24/7 results in her suggestion that he move into her spare bedroom; soon, with his help, she’s trolling the Jewish dating site J-Date.

After they’ve gotten their feet wet with Facebook and made sure they can remember their passwords, the seniors take a bold step: making funky videos that compete for popularity on YouTube and Facebook. One grandma, rocking a backward baseball cap and chains around her neck, spits boastful raps about having all her teeth. Then there’s Shura, who already has a tiny viral hit with a video demonstrating how to cook a grilled cheese sandwich with a clothes iron, following up with a bartending recipe for a tipple that looks like a Creeper from the online game Minecraft.

Still, it can be hard putting yourself out there. As Shura scrolls through the comments on her video and sees “18 Likes and 1 Dislike,” she begins to fixate on that one negative review. She suspects she has a secret enemy. “Who could dislike something so innocuous?” she wonders aloud.

Who, indeed?

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