As a child born in the early 80’s, this was a time when Starbursts were Opal fruits, Ant and Dec were PJ and Duncan and spam fritters were a regular item on the family menu.
As I previously said, weekly throughout July, I will be writing a list of 10 things relating to parenting and since my post last week, I’ve been wondering what to write about. I visited my parents at the weekend to celebrate my Birthday (34th for those who were wondering) and I put the TV on for the kids while we waited for my Dad to cook me my Birthday breakfast. When we were called in for breakfast, I went to switch the TV off and my son Joseph said, “Daddy, pause it please.” Now my parents are probably in the minority of the population in the UK who do not have sky or virgin (cable to my friends in the States) and so any luxuries such as pausing or recording TV in their house is simply not an option. Joseph couldn’t believe it, “What do you mean you can’t pause it? Does the controller need new batteries?”
And so there was my inspiration, 10 things our generation of children will take for granted:
1 – The Remote Control
Carrying on with the above theme, there was a time when I remember when I had to get up to change the channel. Remote controls always had a name didn’t they? In my house when growing up, it was always called the ‘fat controller’ – clearly some Thomas the Tank Engine reference there! I recall my Grandad couldn’t get his head around the fact that a controller could actually change the channels – it completely blew his mind and he simply referred to it as the ‘didgeridoo.’ I have no idea why, but it always made me laugh!
Of course nowadays, it can fast forward, rewind, record and it pretty much facilitates access to almost anything! What our children see is now the norm.
2 – Videos and Cassettes
Gone are the days of the Betamax or VHS video recorder. I recall, at the point of recording you couldn’t change the channel and you had to ensure there was enough tape for what it was you were recording! All that money my parents spent on buying the videos of my school Christmas play where I was probably a sheep or a Donkey to sit gathering dust somewhere!
In fact, as you are all probably aware, watching a film is so easy today with on demand features on our TV’s. Who remembers that trip to Blockbusters? It was always considered a treat for me – and then of course having to rewind the tape when you have finished watching, as part of the borrowing terms and conditions!
Tape decks were a faff in itself, I used to love recording the top 40 on a Sunday night. I would intently sit by the tape recorder ready to turn the tape over when it reached halfway!
Thank god the heavy boom box was replaced by walk-mans, disc mans, the mini disc and now, by our phones. No more slipped disc’s or hernia’s for us, as the lugging of a boom box is now extinct! Music nowadays is available via our phones and it connects to our cars, speakers at home or portable ones and you can very easily listen to any song you want, any time!
3 – The Internet
For all the bad that has resulted from the internet, there is a lot of good too – reading this for a start! 😜 Things are in general much more accessible, be it information or just staying connected. But who remembers the iconic sound of dial-up?
Phone calls could neither be made or received when you were online and the connection was about as temperamental as a hungry 2-year-old. The amount of times I remember picking up the phone to call a friend to be greeted by what can only be described as that horrendous white noise sound, for then someone to shout out “Oi! who’s picked up the phone!!” Ooops! 🙈
Or what about, when you arranged to receive a phone call at a certain time and someone in your house was already online and you had to convince them that your call was more important than what ever it was they were doing! Thank goodness for WiFi – our children will never have to experience this pain!!
4 – Encyclopaedias
I remember doing my homework as a boy, looking through these massive old things! The musty book smell greets you as you flick through the pages. I remember the ones my parents had, actually had a book just for the glossary! Come to think of it, I am not sure how any child did well at school in those days, as depending on how old the encyclopaedia’s were, surely most things were out of date!? Nowadays, it’s over to Wikipedia or a google search and you will find more than what you need – and these platforms are constantly being updated with relevant and interesting ‘in date’ information.
5 – Cameras and Photos
Most of us have cameras on our phones these days and they are pretty decent ones too. We literally have access to take pictures or videos wherever we are. We no longer have to put a new film in our cameras which limits us to 24 pictures and then worry about what is actually on the camera when you go to Boots to pick up the developed photos.
There was of course the Polaroid camera, which did print instantly, although I could never understand why you could buy a camera and film together in Argos which was cheaper than buying a stand alone replacement film…work that one out? These days, it’s as simple as going to Tesco’s and printing them off your phone there and then.
6 – Disks
The saving and accessing of work was all done via floppy or hard disks. Computer’s didn’t have that much memory capacity to save information and at this time USB sticks would have been viewed as some form of wizardry. CD’s played a part for a while, but these days it is all about the pen drive or USB stick.
7 – Tracing Pictures
As a child growing up, I spent many a Sunday night doing my homework. If I had to draw something, it nearly always involved getting the tracing paper out of the cupboard and tracing a picture I had seen in a magazine or similar, to then turn it over and gently scribble on the back of it to make the picture come out on the paper! I always thought it was some form of magic or witchcraft, I was really impressed whenever I did this – seems to be a forgotten art in recent times. I guess a printer does this job for us nowadays. Sad really! 😥
8 – Proms
The very American tradition of having a prom to celebrate you leaving school came over the pond quite recently. I think it is lovely to see your children get dressed up and have a farewell party. Although, it seems year on year a great deal of thought goes into the mode of transport as to how people arrive. I have seen children pass through my village on tractors, limousines and even a tank on their way to the prom. My last day at school consisted of trying to get into our local Wetherspoons having been dropped off around the corner by my Mum, followed by a sleep-over at a friends!
9 – Phones
The days of ringing up a friend, a girlfriend (in my case) or boyfriend and speaking to their parents first, exchanging small talk and hoping that you don’t offend them in any way are now extinct. It is all about texting or using mobile phones and with that you are able to bypass the scary gatekeepers!
I think I got my first mobile phone when I was about 16 years old and sending a text was expensive (10p a text if I recall – maybe more?), it was guaranteed to give you RSI too as there was never a proper keyboard, each number represented 3 letters usually and by the time you had written “Hello, how are you”, your fingers were ready to drop off! There was a limit as to how many characters you could use too…crazy!
From when I was about 13 to 15 years old, I don’t think a weekend passed without me doing a reverse charge phone call to my parents when I needed picking up from somewhere either! Mobile phones really are a sophisticated piece of technology, there isn’t much you can’t do on them. Things have moved quickly and gone are the days of playing snake on your old Nokia, the number of games available to us is staggering really. Back in the day, I got my hands on a Nintendo Game Boy – and it was the best thing ever! I wonder what our children would make of something like that? It would probably be at the bottom of the toy box.
(This was my favourite toy when growing up)
10 – Social Media and Apps
Whether it is online dating, which is the ‘norm’ these days (my son still thinks I can buy a girlfriend via my phone), doing your shopping, playing games or just keeping in touch via some form of social media, our children will not know any different – there is literally an app for anything.
I remember when friends re-united came out, Bebo and MSN messenger too and they were all revolutionary at the time! Now it is all about Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat. Normal pictures without the use of a filter is almost a thing of the past which is sad in many ways, although I must admit, I do like to use an emoji from time to time! 🤷♀️👍
While a lot of things these days cater for the ‘millennial’ and beyond – there is no doubt, as a rule things are easier to access and there are so many positives, but are we becoming a lazy generation here? There are so many pressures around our appearance and that is undoubtedly caused by the social media phenomena. Does this worry you as a parent? Maybe, we should all start by introducing our children to some tracing paper this weekend!
If you enjoyed reading this, then check out last week’s post on 10 things that really p*ss me off as a parent…