Kids These Days

For the past few weeks we have been helping the good folks over at Linksys promote their Geek Dad Cool contest where you can win over $10,000 in great high tech prizes. Head on over to Geek Dad Contest for details.  Checking out all of the cool prizes started me thinking about how much technology has changed during my lifetime.

Most of us have heard a story of someone’s toddler trying to manipulate an old school magazine page like it was an iPad.  The youngster gets frustrated when the picture doesn’t enlarge as they touch it and the child becomes perplexed and a bit frustrated.  The little one finally figures out this extremely thin and pliable looking tablet thing behaves more like the “Very Busy Spider” book Daddy reads to them before bed than the shiny noisy thing he lets’ them play with in the car.  Once they process that they are grasping an antique, tiny fingers begin to flip through the magazine the old fashion way. But I bet as digital readers become more ubiquitous and youngsters begin to get their Eric Karl fix digitally, even the old school bedtime books will fade into the past.

I was thinking of this the other night as our family gathered around the dinning room table to partake in an old-school craft project.  We were taking old, broken crayons and melting them in order to make multi-colored, heart shaped crayons for my two oldest to give to their classmates as Valentine gifts.  As I peeled paper from crayons, it occurred to me that in this the new high tech world, a consistent connection our children have to the world we grew up in may actually may come through craft projects and cooking.  Indeed the process of making Popsicle stick houses and Valentine’s Day cookies really hasn’t changed that much over the past forty years.

Waxing nostalgic I began to tell my kids some stories of my childhood and I was quickly met with a barrage of questions about what it was like back in the day.  My daughter was eager to know if we had streetlights back then?  “Yes honey, we had street lights, but they were gas powered because I’m really old.”

Sensing they might not be totally clued into many of the items I was describing from my childhood, I conducted a little poll to see exactly how much they knew of yesteryear.  I might as well have been describing ancient farming implements from the Bronze Age based on the amazed looks on their faces. Having not seriously pondered the extent of this generation gap previously, I was actually amazed at how many things that were everyday items back in the day no longer exist.

Times have really changed and it’s quite fascinating.

Here is a small list of commonplace items from my childhood they could not comprehend.

Stove top popcorn


Rotary dial phones

Phones with cords

Pay phones

Party lines

Vinyl records


Boom Boxes

Cassette tapes

8-track tapes


Adding machines

Polaroid cameras

Black and white television

Television and radio tuning knobs

Daily delivered newspapers

Aspirin gum

Chewable orange flavored baby aspirin

Soda Fountains

Drive In Theaters

Cars with no seat belts

The milkman

A time when Network television channels actually signed off at mid night

Now don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not pining away for the old days.  I love microwave popcorn, the awesome camera in my phone and the lightning fast wireless internet-connection in every room of my house.

I do believe however that some things should remain sacred, like reading “Go Dog Go” on good old-fashioned paper.

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