“Will you tell me a story dad?”
“What were you like when you were my age mom?”
“What were your favorite toys when you were a kid?”

We’ve all heard questions like that from our kids. No matter how old they are, there’s a universal desire in children to know where they came from. In the 1980s, that meant digging through the attic for a dusty photo album or looking under the bed for a box of bell bottoms.

Now though, thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to be a storyteller. Your photos aren’t hidden in a box somewhere, they’re on Instagram. Your stories aren’t forgotten, they’re posted on Facebook. Your favorite songs haven’t faded into memory, they’re all on iTunes.

My family has spent many an evening taking a fun stroll down the digital memory lane.

It’s time well spent because when you tell your kids stories about your family, about your life, about their life…you help shape their identity and their perspective. It’s one of the 6 things we talk about on Parent Cue that kids need over time. Here are three ways we use technology to give our kids “stories over time.”

1. Use YouTube like a Juke Box.

One of our favorite games to play is, “I can’t believe you liked that song!” This game is simple. My wife and I find a song from the 1980s and 1990s that we liked. Then we show our kids the ridiculous video of said song on YouTube. Then we all laugh. Case in point, MC Hammer’s pants. It’s impossible to watch “2 Legit 2 Quit” and not have a good time.

2. Start a family hashtag.

If you go on Instagram right now and search “#WickedAwesomeAcuffSummer”, you will find a cornucopia of amazing pictures from our amazing summer. My kids don’t have Instagram accounts yet, because the legal age is 13, but they love looking at our hashtag. It’s a fun, simple way to organize a lot of photos within the app. And on more than one occasion it encouraged us to have a conversation about what awesome things we wanted to add to the summer. Start a hashtag with your family and be deliberate about the photos you take.  

3. Toy around with old school toys.

Remember the Micro Machine commercial where the guy read the announcements at warp speed? Remember the Snoopy slush machine that made delicious icy treats? Remember how great Mike Tyson’s Punch Out was for Nintendo? No? Well the Internet does and is more than happy to show your kids the old school toys you used to love. The massive Sears Catalog might be gone, but your toy memories live on in the world of Google. Show your kids the things you loved as a kid as another way to engage in a story.

Stories are funny things because they have an infinite number of ways to be told. Some start in books with, “Once upon a time…” Others start online with “Do you want to see a crazy pair of pants this guy named MC Hammer used to wear?”

We’re all storytellers these days. Make the most of your next tale with a little help from the Internet.