10 Things I Grew up with that My Son Won’t Recognize

One thing about working with teenagers is that they have an amazing ability to make you feel old. Like ancient. I once spent 20 minutes trying to explain dial up internet to a group of 15 year olds, who looked at me like I was absolutely the oldest person around. I was 28.

The rapid advances in technology mean that life can change dramatically in the span of a decade. This made me think about how different my son’s life will be than mine.

So, fellow 90’s kids, I made a list. (No, not on paper. I’m not that old.)

Here are 10 things I grew up with that my son will probably not recognize:

Video Stores

When I was a kid we would go to the video store on Friday nights and rent a movie or two. We started with VHS for a while and then switched to DVD when I was in high school. I remember having to move quick to get the new releases, or being stuck with the crappy movies no one wanted. I remember the blue and white plastic cases with “Be Kind, Rewind” on them. I remember that if you started watching the movie and didn’t like it, you were out of luck. My son will not remember any of this because video stores do not exist anymore. Instead of going to get videos, videos come to us via the internet or Netflix.

Time to return my videos. Crap, video stores don’t exist anymore.

Photo credit: makelessnoise via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Phones with Cords

Remember making calls on a rotary phone? No? I do. No, I’m not Amish. We did however, have a rotary phone in the basement during most of my childhood. Yes, it was a huge time waster just dialling the number, but that was not the worst part of the phones of my childhood. That had to be the cord.

Your movement was so restricted with the cord that you had to sit where you talked and focus on that task. This was easy because phones made calls and that was it. But the cord tangled and never seemed to stretch as far as you needed it to. Also, pay phones were a thing. When was the last time you saw one of those?

Gotta call my mom. Who has  quarter? That’s okay, I’ll just call collect.

Photo via Visual hunt

Dial-up Internet

First, I will start by saying that I did not have internet while we were growing up. It existed, but I just did not have it. If I wanted to surf the web, I would head over to my friend’s house where we would choose a dial up number, wait while the little hour glass turns upside down while that distinctive noise buzzed in our ears. After about 5 minutes, we would finally get through.

This is it!, we thought, as we put aside our Seventeen magazines. Things would go fairly smoothly until we got a webpage with pictures. Then we would wait for those to load too. Then, just as the first page finally loads, your mom picks up the phone and you have to start all over again. Kids today get upset if the page they want doesn’t load immediately. They will never know the struggle that was dial up internet.

You know what I miss? Dial up internet. (Said no one ever.)

Photo via VisualHunt

Texting used to be slow

Now, if I want to communicate with someone quickly, I send a text. It was not always this way. There was a time when texting meant that you had to hit a button 3 times to get the letter you wanted. If you fell asleep during this process and missed the letter you wanted, you had to go back around again. There were no fancy emojis, so you had to make your own happy and sad faces. It was too hard to do more than that. After all this, it was easier just to call. No one complained either, because you couldn’t complain if you were lucky enough to have a cell phone. I shared one with the whole family until I was 18.

Got to text my friends. Wait, got to put up the antenna.

Photo credit: acroamatic via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Developing photos

I got a digital camera as a present before heading to university. Before that I had to load film in the camera, take 24 photos (which may or may not turn out) and then take them to the drug store to drop off for development. It would take 3-5 days before they came back and you could see if any of your photos turned out. Most likely, half would be bad and you would curse yourself for paying extra for doubles. My son will probably never do this.

Yay! Time to get the photos developed. Can’t wait to see them…next week…or maybe the week after.

Photo via Visual hunt

Cars used to be low tech:

Anyone else remember manually rolling down car windows and locking the doors? My son won’t. He also won’t remember leaving the windows open in the rain and rushing to crank them shut before you get soaked. And if you were in the front and the back windows were left open? Tough luck. Better pull over. He will not remember a time before cars came with WIFI, TV’s and rear view cameras. I, on the other hand, remember a time when road trips meant nothing to do in the car except talk to your sibling, kick the seats and read if you didn’t get car sick. Ah, those were the days.

Help! Get me out of here! There’s no WIFI.

Photo credit: dmitry_ryzhkov via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Smoking as publicly acceptable:

When I was a kid I knew lots of people who smoked – often while you were in the room or car with them. In restaurants you were asked whether you wanted to sit in a smoking or non-smoking sections, separated by a small plastic barrier or none at all. People smoked in bars, patios, hotels and openly on the street.

I also remember when Tim Hortons (a Canadian donut chain) used to have a smoking section. It was basically a clear glass box in one corner of the restaurant where the smokers were kept like mimes, drinking their double doubles in a smoky haze. This is not something my son will ever see because people don’t smoke nearly as much as before, and certainly not in a restaurant. This change is for the better, I think.

Smoking or non-smoking? Let’s face it, it was all smoking. Don’t miss that.

Photo via Visualhunt

Waiting until a show was actually on TV to watch it:

Back in the day, you either stayed home when your show was on, recorded it on VHS or missed it. Having an event on the night your favourite show was on was a major problem. Enter the PVR and Netflix. Not only can you watch TV on demand, but you can skip the commercials. Who knows what this will look like during my son’s lifetime.  Though I appreciate the convenience of this, I miss the collective experience of watching a show when it aired and knowing others were watching it too.

Can’t wait to call my friend and watch the show together. Hope the phone cord stretches.

The glorious freedom of being unsupervised

There has been a lot written about the disappearance for the carefree childhood of old. Being unsupervised during the summer months was standard. We biked around the neighbourhood, walked to friend’s houses and came home by curfew. (After all, you couldn’t call home on your cell phone to let your parents know you were late.) My brother and I walked to school alone starting in the second grade. Apparently that is no longer standard or acceptable.  I heard a story of a parent in our neighbourhood who let her 9 year old walk to school two blocks away and had child services called on them. Yikes. It’s too bad, because I think we all gained a sense of independence from our unsupervised time. I worry that my son’s generation will miss out on this lesson.

Getting on your bike and riding around the neighbourhood. Good times.

Photo credit: Fishyone1 via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Mixed tapes

Just about everyone gave a mixed tape to someone else at some point. They required a lot of effort. First you had to listen to the radio, wait for your favourite song, record it on cassette and hope you didn’t get a chatty DJ who talked over the end. There were all sorts of challenges, such as accidentally taping over something or thinking you have enough tape for a whole song only to have it run out by the end of the first chorus. After several days of hard work, you finally finish the whole thing and decorate the case for your friend. My son will never know the joy that comes from receiving a mixed tape of your favourite tunes.

Okay, all done my Christmas gifts! Now to decorate the cases.

Photo credit: meophamman via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Okay, those are mine.

What are the things you grew up with that you will need to explain to your kid? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!



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