PARENTING
09/24/2014 12:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017
PRESENTED BY THIS LIFE BY SHUTTERFLY

6 Ways That Documenting Our Lives Has Totally Changed In The Last 50 Years

When you were little and wanted to see a photo of your great-grandfather, your mother would have to sift through volumes of handed-down photo albums, cycling backward through the years (and years and years).

Now, when it comes to photography, we've come a long way. Technology hit the ground running, and it's a lot easier to document your children's lives, all the while creating simplified, sharable, likable albums for them to share with their kids 50 years from now.

In partnership with This Life by Shutterfly, here are some of the ways documenting our lives has changed since the 1960's (spoiler alert: the Internet):

1. Social Networks are the new block party
social

You know what the hot social network was in 1960's? The block party. Whenever you and your neighbors got the urge, you'd make your favorite savory Jell-O recipes (lemon Jell-O with shrimp frosting, please), and you'd go party outside with the neighbors.

Now, we've got our 24/7 social networks like Facebook and Twitter on our computers, our phones, our video game consoles. You know what your friends and family are doing at all hours, and chances are, they Liked and commented when your kids took their first step or got their first teeth.

2. We can work on family trees from opposite ends of the Earth
family photo

Fifty years ago, family trees were on paper. Families always had that one person who took the family tree school project and ran with it, creating a giant, rolled-up poster of boxes, lines, names and crookedly-glued photos. Now, anyone with a smartphone or computer can start a family tree and enlist the other members of their family to log on and add to it from afar. No longer do you have to wait until the family reunion to figure out everyone's birthdays!

And even better -- online family trees allow you to upload photos and scan in documents, like your great-grandfather's World War I draft card you wanted to show your cousin years ago.

3. Photo enhancements just got easier
photo app

Whether you'd like a vintage look on your photos or want to overlay a cut-out, there's an app for it. Fifty years ago, you'd need a camera, film, some photography know-how, and the patience for developing the photos (and the hope that any of your 24 or 36 snaps came out). Now, you can shoot away, keep the photos that look good, and share the best of the best. You can even let your children take as many photos on a digital camera as they'd like and let them document their own lives.

Whether you're shooting with a digital camera or your phone, photography and video have gotten a lot easier - and sharing those photos with Aunt Olga is just a couple of clicks away.

4. Cloud storage is the new "box in the attic"
kids smiling

Your grandfather's wedding photo no longer has to live forever in a dusty, old home. Thanks to, you know, the internet, cloud photo storage programs are essential to keeping your photos organized and preserved for ages.

When you do manage to create an album of lovable family photos, there are a ton of services for making sure your pictures stay organized and printing beautiful photos books online. They make great gifts, and are also perfect for theming, stashing away, and bringing back out years later (like, say, when your son brings his first girlfriend over for dinner).

Everything is now infinitely re-printable, storable and shareable.

5. We can share our memories with others
typing on computer

It's never been easier than it is now to get your voice out there. Every person in every family is able to maintain their own blog and decide how public to make it. Families can choose to document their whole life and keep it to themselves, make the stories available to just to their family, or to make their blog public.

Looking for blogs about moms? Dads? By and for children? There are millions of voices, all chronicling life around them. And those stories give others the strength to start their own story online. Journals no longer have to be some book you hide under your mattress. Many people find power in making their lives and the lives of their children a learning experience for others.

6. There's no age limit
girl taking photo

Everything I've mentioned is totally accessible to children. Sure, there's terms of service for social networks, but you can hand your kid a camera and let them take photos and make their own albums. It no longer has to be laid on the shoulders of one person in the family who has to obsessively document every step. Everyone's got a camera phone. Everyone's got a digital camera. Everyone can contribute to the memory books and photo albums.

Whether we like it or not, technology has move quickly in the last 50 years. Our lives are online, and for many, that's a good thing. We're now able to use all of this accessible technology to share and document our lives with our loved ones. And we're also creating a legacy for our kids to continue when it's their turn to document their children's lives.

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