Year 9 students recently had a Skype session with a group of North Coast seniors.
Year 9 students recently had a Skype session with a group of North Coast seniors.

'Be bold': Dating advice from 91-year-old Barrie

SEX, drugs and rock 'n' roll were the main topics during a recent Skype conversation between residents at Feros Village Byron Bay and Year 9 school students at Davidson High Sydney.

Eight seniors - average age 93 - participated in the prototype program to connect students to seniors using technology.

The candid Q&A covered topics like sex before marriage, underage drinking, dating, and how different things were 'back then'.

The teenagers were surprised to learn that not that much has changed about first date nerves.

But the big difference was that plenty of local activities, including ice skating and local dances (as many as six nights a week), have now been replaced by technology as a way of meeting someone.

Barrie, 91, said his hot tip for asking a person out was: "Don't be afraid, be bold!"

Three-quarters of a century ago, alcohol and cigarettes were still secretly consumed by teenagers - "so not much has changed there", said one of the residents.

"However drugs weren't as plentiful and we didn't need to worry about all this pressure that you have on you these days. We enjoyed life with less," they said.

"We were still slaves to fashion but it wasn't constantly changing, it was achievable.

"Clothes were well-made and the fashion lasted for years - one jumper and one skirt was all that was needed.

"We had to have the right hat though!"

However the really noticeable difference between the generations was the age that participants left school.

Of the seniors in the room, most had left school by 14 and gone out to work

Davidson High teacher Jen Wright said before the Q&A the students assumed the seniors would be "old, frail and sick".

"They had a great surprise to see and hear such vitality and learn that in many ways nothing has changed across the generations," Ms Wright said.

"Comments ranged from 'that was sooo awesome', to 'Fred is such a cool dude' to 'I could listen to Nina all day' or 'I want to be Jilli when I'm older'.

"I wanted to teach the students to use technology in a positive way, and I really appreciate the wisdom of older generations, so it made sense to combine the two.

"It's definitely something we'll do again - we just need to iron out a few technology glitches."

Emily, 97, said: "I didn't mind telling my story - it's so different to today, we never swore (except in the paddock).

"I hope the students learnt something they would never have heard anywhere else.

"I thought that not all is lost between the generations if they asked us questions.

"It was great because it made us all think about our childhoods and youth."

Seniors and students connected virtually using Feros Care's "telepresence robot" called Wheel.I.Am.

Wheel.I.Am is essentially an iPad mounted on a miniature Segway base, and can be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world over the internet and using a secure connection.

It uses a front facing camera with 360 degree mobility and receives real-time video and audio.


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