You Know You Grew Up Before the Internet Was Invented When ...

Sheri Reed | Oct 2, 2012 Being a Mom

kids tech devices
My boys have lots of age-appropriate tech devices, can set the DVR by themselves, and know about the latest viral YouTube videos before I do. But sometimes I worry I am ruining them with technology. What are all these "convenience tools" doing to their "sponge-like" kid brains? Squelching their innate talents? Robbing them of the glory that comes from good old-fashioned benign neglect and boredom?

When I think back to my childhood, spent pretending my bike was a horse and making eraser people, I do think my kids are getting a little screwed. We had no technology (unless you count Lite Brite); we had to learn to make do. We were boredom survivors. Some of our best days revolved around playing House (the only one left standing in a nuclear war) and making great duct tape things, which we then sold to strangers from mom's card table. It was a wonderful time. Life's answers weren't a Google search away, and we, no doubt, came out brighter (briter?) because of it. Didn't we?

Let's take a quick look at childhood before and after the Internet was invented, and you decide. Who's screwed the least -- the techy kids of today or us non-techy kids of yesterday?

  • NOW: Caller ID


    Image via nate steiner/Flickr

    THEN: Move over "Is your refrigerator running?" As kids, we spent hours concocting seriously witty prank calls on our friends, enemies, and their poor unsuspecting parents. We drove people insane with a telephone. Gotta applaud that kind of creativity.

  • NOW: Cell Phones


    Image via thienzieyung/Flickr

    THEN: My best friend across the street and I made up our very own fake Morse Code to communicate with flashlights from our bedroom windows after bedtime. We never got past clicking H-E-L-L-O but talk about ingenuity!

  • NOW: Text Messages


    Image via kpwerker/Flickr

    THEN: Sending messages to our friends back in the day was a beautiful thing. Dozens of different origami-like note folds, an art form passed down from eighth graders to seventh graders for generations. And note passing without getting caught takes super-stealth precision, a technique I use now when secretly eating cookies in the same room as the kids.

  • NOW: YouTube


    Image via Rob Adams/Flickr

    THEN: In the 1978 neighborhood production of Grease, I played an amazing Sandy Olsson (and not a bad Danny Zuko either!) among my neighborhood peers, in front our probably drunk parents. We had serious talent, I tell you. And we didn't need no stinkin' number of YouTube "Likes" to tell us just how good we were.

  • NOW: 3D Video Games on Handheld Devices


    Image via Facebook

    THEN: This seemingly uninspired toy (called the Lemon Twist) was a modern wonder in its day (totally plastic! hell yeah!) and hours and hours of fun. We made up different Lemon Twist games and multi-player competitions, took them to school, and everything! Yes, we did all this with a noisy plastic lemon on a plastic rope! That's how amazing we were.

  • NOW: iTunes


    Image via

    THEN: When a new music single was released, we always kept a tape recorder next to the (clock) radio in an effort to capture any kind of recording we could (on a heavenly day, the stupid deejay didn't talk over!). It sometimes took days to catch the song playing at the right time and took like 15 tries to get a halfway decent (bad, scratchy) recording. But man, it was so worth it.

activities technology toys internet cell phone electronics gaming texting you tube

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