Casette tape
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
January 23, 2024 ·  3 min read

Parents Who Grew Up in the 70’s and 80’s Remember Experiences That Blow Their Kids’ Minds.

‘Kids were tougher then for a reason.’

Growing up is hard for everyone. Teenage hormones rage. Children are dealing with the frustration of having very little autonomy. Worst of all (for many, otherwise public speaking wouldn’t be such a common fear) children are learning to navigate social skills. Adults feel that kids today have it so easy compared to when they were growing up and for many reasons this is true. Here is a list of examples to put into perspective just how much harder it was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. 

Pay Phones.

Cell phones were first invented around 1973 but they weren’t as easily accessible as they are today. Pay phones were among the most common forms of communication in the 70’s and 80’s. On many corners and blocks were things called pay phones. These were big metal boxes with a phone and coin slot. You put in the change needed for the call or call “collect”, which meant the person receiving the call would have to pay for it.

Most kids today have never even seen a pay phone let alone know how to use one. Phones have come a long way from the blocky and inconvenient bricks they used to be. Kids of today not only have much more compact cell phones but the phones have significantly more features than phones of the past. 

Tobacco Use.

Cigarettes are foul smelling, leave stains on teeth and come with a variety of other health complications. Prior to 1992, states were able to set their own age limit on the purchase and consumption of tobacco. This meant children in the 70’s and 80’s had much easier access to these products. People smoked on airplanes, in bars, and in many other public spaces, including schools. Many people growing up in these decades even recall designated smoking areas for the students in their schools.

However, the percentage of smokers has decreased significantly in recent years, so much so that you can be fined for smoking in certain public areas. While there are some kids of more recent generations that have taken to vaping rather than using tobacco products, most have avoided and done away with tobacco consumption altogether.  

The invention of the Internet.

Sometime in the 1960s came the invention of the internet. It wasn’t available to the public that early in its development and was primarily used to conduct government research. It wasn’t until January, 1st, 1983 that the internet was available for commercial use. Dial-up was then invented in the 80’s and not available for commercial use until the 90’s. This means that children of the 70’s and 80’s had little or no access to the internet or its now infinite resources. In contrast, today kids can’t fathom any of this struggle, let alone life without access to high-speed internet. 

Seat Belts in Cars, Helmets for Bikes.  

There was a time when children could be seen riding in the front seat of cars or on their bikes, without helmets. Laws were much less strict when it came to the safety of children in the 70’s and 80’s. Many adults who grew up before these laws were put into place would argue this is part of why they’re so much tougher than kids today.   

Musical Bliss. 

Kids nowadays have access to streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora, where they can create playlists, skip, and search for specific songs. There was however a time when you had to call into a radio station and request a song in order to hear it. People burned cd’s for their friends and crushes. Prior to that, there were tapes and 8 track players, and records. Music has come a long way since the 70’s and 80’s.   

Things have progressed in the last 30-40 years, much more rapidly than ever before. With advancements in medicine and technology, we have access to practically everything we could possibly need. Companies deliver food and goods right to our door. Apps like Skype and WhatsApp allow us to keep in touch with the people we love from all over the world. There are safety laws and warning labels on everything. Now that things are so readily available there are many struggles of the past that aren’t relatable to kids today.