I am a child of the 80’s and I am starting to realize there are things in this world that my child will never experience, and some that he will never NOT experience. For better or for worse, his perspective will always be different from mine.
- A world without internet
I can actually remember a time when there was not internet. We had our first computer with internet (dial up and really only to AOL) when I was a teen. It was still so new, there wasn’t really much to search for. I certainly didn’t have the option to Google the answer to every question that popped into my mind (Google didn’t exist yet!). My child will probably never have to search in an Encyclopedia for anything (yes, that IS where the concept of Wikipedia came from, folks!).
- Cassette tapes
Ah, how I loved my cassette tapes as a child. I was around before even CDs and iTunes (gasp!). I remember Saturdays spent glued to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so that I could record it – in real time. I had all these hodge-podge tapes which abruptly jumped from one song to another, often with a bit of Dick Clark mixed in. And it was always a joy to get a special ‘mixed tape’ from a friend (if it was from a boy, it was a sign of true love). We love music around our house, and often choose to play an album instead of having the TV on. Our son loves to dance, so the medium by which he gets that music doesn’t really matter.
- VHS Tapes
While we are on the topic, remember movies on VHS? Remember how, when you were done watching a move, you had to be sure to rewind it before putting it away or you’d be stuck doing it the next time you wanted to pop it in? And remember Blockbuster?! No NetFlix, no Amazon Prime video-watching. No Apple TV, no streaming. You either rented or bought a movie when it came out on video. And then you had to cart yourself back over to the video store to return it (and if you lost it, you could count on Blockbuster to charge an exorbitant fee for that tape they paid $10 for). We still plan to make movie nights a fun tradition in our house, we just won’t have to decide days ahead what our movie of choice will be… and our choices now are practically endless.
- Digital-free road trips
Back in the day, we truly had reason to complain on road trips that we were bored. There was no option to play Angry Birds or pull up funny cat videos on our SmartPhones as we coasted down Highway 95. We had to do things like make up car games, play car tic-tac-toe, or, heaven forbid, talk to each other! We created activities like trying to find all the 50 state license plates on other cars driving past or playing punch buggy (yeah, look that one up!). And, as much as we complained, in the end, it was always a good time. Quality family time – something we could use more of these days. I plan to subject my son to at least one or two never-ending road trips during his childhood.
- How much our world now caters to kids with allergies
Ok, I have to say I am happy about this one. While I am sure we all took PB&J sandwiches to school as kids, this is almost non-existent now, as so many schools and daycares are nut-free. And I am sure if it wasn’t for the fact that my child has a tree-nut allergy, I might find it to be a bit over-precautious. But I am happy to know that I don’t have to worry as much about his exposure to allergens. And these days, you don’t have to visit a specialty pharmacy to get products a child with allergies can actually eat. Labels are so much more user-friendly than they once were – it makes this whole parenting thing just a bit easier.
- Doing research solely via actual paper books or using a card catalog
Remember those weekends where you had to drag home a stack of books from the library for a research project? Maybe not, but I do (I’m probably older than you!). I still have a deep love and appreciation for actual books, even though I own a Kindle and have an Audible membership. So far, I have managed to instill this same love of books in my child. But I realize that as he gets older, he will be more and more integrated into the world of digital research and eReaders. And while that is completely fine, I’ll be sure to use our close proximity to DC to take him to the Library of Congress and see a card catalog (on a side note, here’s a fun DIY card catalog project I found).
- A world without internet
While I have only scratched the surface here, I think the main point is that my child will have a completely different perspective of the world than I did. While I cannot make him into a child of the 80s (he does love Duran Duran, though!), I can certainly tell him about how things ‘used to be, when I was a kid.’ I can let him know how good he has it, but in a non-lecturing way. Will he roll his eyes at points? Maybe. But will be also know what a cassette tape is when asked on Jeopardy? Definitely. After all, everyone needs a little cultural and generational awareness. Besides, he’s a kid of a kid of the 80s.
How do you make your children aware of the technologies they have access to, while also giving them some perspective? (my son is still young, so I’m looking for ideas!) Do you tell them ‘what things were like’ when you were a kid?