I love technology. It makes my job pretty wonderful. Well, I want to love technology, but there are some nuances that stump me on the daily. That’s where my kids come in! Being a mom of six and a mom who works from home has its advantages. For example, I’ve been learning how to tell stories with video. And my kids have helped me do it. Not only that, but I’ve noticed that when kids make video they make magic!

It can be somewhat overwhelming sometimes. But I have learned that my kids are making videos for fun and entertainment on their own, so why not have them teach me and tell some family stories while we’re at it? My kids are a shout-out away most of the time and they can bring me up to speed quickly. I have discovered, however, that it’s more than just a shout-out when I’m stumped. There are those teaching moments – the moments where they are teaching me – that have turned out to be pure magic. I have found four tried and true ways children and technology create magic with family storytelling.

1. It ties together generations.

A little over 20 years ago, my husband and I interviewed my maternal grandparents and all of their descendants. My husband then condensed the interviews into a 30-minute video on VHS. Last year, he digitized the interviews. (Read more about that magic here.) We uploaded the digitized version to our family Facebook group and my extended family fell in love. Many of my family members who loved it most were my cousins’ children who relished the family stories they had been told by their parents. Hearing them straight from the people who the stories were about was priceless!

Dinner Table Conversations

Strengthen bonds and help children be more resilient through intentional conversations. Get our prompts to spark lively discussions and create a culture of storytelling.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

My oldest son, who sat in on all of those interviews as a toddler 20 years ago, knew the special connection we felt to the project and decided to add to it for a college class on family history.  He used a different medium – a podcast. He interviewed his grandma (my mom) about the videos and about his great-grandparents’ love story – it’s the stuff of love legends. He published the podcast and it’s another piece of my family’s history out there for the world to hear. He asked lots of questions of me, his dad, and his grandma and he taught me why a podcast is important.

kids make video
My son Tyler with his Grandma. The two shared Tyler’s great grandparents’ love story for a podcast.

In the process, he helped me upload the video to Facebook and make sense of it all so my family could enjoy it. We are still working to splice it into smaller pieces, a project to be done as a hobby when college work isn’t in the way for him. But this 20-year project has bound four generations together between the living and the dead. Who knew that a senior project for my husband 20 years ago would turn into a priceless treasure all these years later? Click below to listen to that special podcast, “Between Two Hearts” with my son and my mom, talking about my grandparents’ love story.

My two oldest sons, Joseph (left) and Tyler (right) have been wonderful at making videos and teaching me how to use technology to tell family stories.

2. It bonds us with our kids in special ways.

A few years ago, my then 10-year-old daughter was chosen to tell a story at the Weber State University Storytelling Festival. Another of my sons was a senior in high school at the time and loved all things YouTube.

“Mom, you need to go big with YouTube,” he would often tell me, offering me business advice for Evalogue.Life. This kid loves making videos! He suggested chronicling her storytelling journey with an iMovie video and posting it to Evalogue.Life’s YouTube channel. I’ve watched as my kids have made videos on iMovie – an Apple creation. It was a blast to have him sit by my side and guide me through the video-making process.

I learned a lot about what to do and not to do. He even showed me how to post something on YouTube. I feel more comfortable posting videos to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but now I know a bit about the nuances of YouTube too. We made several versions of the video and he would kindly make suggestions like, “Let’s put in an interview. Let’s take a photo here.” Simple things like that made us both feel like we were working together. My kids helped me make videos, but what mattered just as much was the moment we made together.

Kids make video with patience.

A couple of years ago, I was teaching a class that required a PowerPoint presentation. Easy-peasy, right? Well, not so much. PowerPoint is one of those small animals that I never learned once I became a writer. My teenaged and young adult sons sat on either side of me and we went to work making a video. The thing I have learned in working with my kids is that they are much more patient teaching me than I am teaching them. They laugh and giggle at my novice mistakes, but they don’t seem to tire of them either.

holding hands picture with text about kids make video

In just a couple of hours, we had put together a PowerPoint that was both polished and pretty, and guess what? I ran it at my presentation with no trouble. Now my oldest son sat in the audience and was at the ready in case I needed him, which meant the world to me. My sons taught me and I learned. Am I still a little rusty? You bet. But thanks to them and their making videos with me, I know that over time, I can figure it out (and my kids can help me out if needed).

Related: Is family storytelling and family history for kids? Yes!

3. Kids teach us video shortcuts that are easy to understand.

When the time came for me to use Adobe Spark, I felt more than intimidated. I was telling my husband how nervous I was while our little storyteller I mentioned above sat in the backseat of the car.

“Adobe Spark? I use that like every day at school!” she exclaimed with sheer delight and a sparkle in her eye.

“Do you want me to help you, Mom?” she asked with more excitement than I expected.

“Of course I do,” I said, with mild trepidation, thinking, “Does she really know what she’s talking about?” Doubting her ability was a huge mistake. The next weekend the two of us sat down and went to work with Adobe Spark. The girl is a master. She knew all the shortcuts and the best tips to create a darling video. We took turns narrating each slide and she showed me how to insert a video. It turns out, Adobe Spark is really as easy as it looks!

My teenaged son showing me the microphone ropes as we make videos.

Teens and their tech

While we were working, my teenaged son came home from a campout, eyeing what we were doing. He is a master video guy. He even wants to be a filmmaker when he grows up. He saw what we were doing and immediately wanted to get involved.

“What you really need to make it perfect is a microphone,” he said as he rushed downstairs. Within moments, he had his video recording microphone and was hooking it into my laptop. My daughter was skeptical, thinking the video we had made was already perfection.  But alas, we used the microphone and it was just what we needed to round out the project.

He and I then moved to Animoto, something entirely new for both of us. We have been playing around with it and figuring out its good and bad features. Once again, the whole patience thing has been amazing and we are slowly figuring it out. In other words, once again I’m making videos with kids and it’s coming out better than if I had tried alone.

Below is the video we created with Adobe Spark of the experience of sending my oldest daughter on a service experience to another country.

Related: Animoto and Adobe Spark Video

4. When kids make video with us it’s fun and the spirit it creates is unforgettable.

I have to admit, dabbling and then getting waist-deep and then neck-deep in this whole “using technology for storytelling” thing is addicting. I could sit for hours finding photo clips, creating video shots, and putting them all together surrounded by my children. When my kids make video they offer valuable insight and lots of laughs. Plus, reminiscing about the video content has been priceless, too. Exclamations of “We should use this video!” or “Remember that trip? Let’s make a video of that!” has been music to my ears.

There is a strong spirit of joy and camaraderie that has accompanied my children and me with our storytelling projects. It is palpable. There is something about connecting generations that brings a feeling of love and peace. I have found that when I let my kids teach me in their way, not my way, things go better. They don’t need specific instructions like I do, they need to follow their natural instincts. I find that when I try to navigate technology, following my natural instincts helps me learn better, too.

Kids make video storytelling fun!

Kids Make Video Fun

These days we hear so much about the negative effects of technology on our youth. I see that side, but I also see the great amount of goodness that comes from it because technology is practically programmed in their amazing brains at birth. Children are born knowing and understanding this technology stuff and if we let them guide us with good things, like family storytelling, that is half the battle. If we engage and learn together, it is goodness. Technology is bad for everyone when there are no limits because, in reality, we all do better with limits. But there is joy to be had with kids, technology, and family storytelling. I have discovered it and I will hold on to it!

Dinner Table Conversations

Strengthen bonds and help children be more resilient through intentional conversations. Get our prompts to spark lively discussions and create a culture of storytelling.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Rachel J. Trotter is a senior writer/editor at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. She tells people’s stories and shares hers to encourage others. She loves family storytelling. A graduate of Weber State University, she has had articles featured on LDSLiving.com and Mormon.org. She and her husband Mat have six children and live on the East Bench in Ogden, Utah.

Tagged on:                                             

8 thoughts on “Children, technology and family stories = magic

Comments are closed.