14 Tech Struggles Your Kids Will Never Have to Go Through
Kids these days don't have to deal with pay phones or encyclopedias.
I'm 42 years old. I was born in the '70s, went through most of my teens in the '80s, and didn't get even a glimpse of anything on the internet until I was in college. I grew up with landlines, corded phones, pay phones, and encyclopedias. My kids? Not so much. Here are a few daily life struggles I had while growing up that my kids haven't had to experience.
1. Using a Corded Phone
Yes, kids, I had to use a phone that not only was connected to a landline (which we still have, though they're increasingly rare), but also had a cord.
If you were lucky, there was a phone in the kitchen that had a realllllllly long cord, so you could snake it down the hallway to your bedroom. Some kids even had phones in their actual bedrooms. The less privileged were stuck in the kitchen or the living room where their parents could overhear their convos.
2. Talking on the Phone With Your Voice
This may not be an issue for most people, but I've never been a huge fan of talking to people (and particularly strangers) over the phone.
National Cancer Institute
The internet and cell phones have made impersonal human-to-human phone exchanges largely a thing of the past, with texting now the name of the game. Lucky kids.
3. Hanging Up the Landline for Dial-Up Internet
Along the same lines, when the internet started to be a thing, most in-home users had to use dial-up connections, which tied up your landline (though not quite as ancient as the one in this phtoto!).
If you were expecting a call or needed to make one, you had to get off the internet so the phone would ring.
4. Needing to Be Physically Plugged In to Acess the Internet
Before routers and Wi-Fi became normal household items, people used to have to actually plug their computers into the internet with a for-real cable and plug.
No more! Now, we get huffy if the internet isn't just "in the air" wherever we go.
5. Needing a Computer to Access the Internet
Computers used to be mandatory if you wanted to go online. Now, most of us have phones and tablets that use data or Wi-Fi to connect to cyberspace, and some people don't even think about using an old-fashioned PC to go online.
6. Paying for Long-Distance Phone Calls
Today, most phones let you call wherever you want in the US for no additional charge. But believe it or not, kids, when I was younger, we had something called a long-distance calling plan, which meant calling outside your own town incurred an additional cost that you had to plan for.
This was a big deal, becuase logn distance charges added up fast, and dad would get furious if you called your cousin in the next township. These days, you don't even care where someone lives before you place a call.
7. Leaving Home Without a Cell Phone
If I accidentally leave home without my phone, I feel weird and naked. Indeed, there are all sorts of day-to-day things I can't even do without a phone. But back in the day, when I was learning to drive and for a couple decades after that, going phoneless was a natural part of life.
8. Looking for a Pay Phone
Speaking of which, if I had car trouble, I had to get out and hike to the nearest pay phone. Pay phones are kinda still around in some places, but I haven't seen a real-life functioning one in years. Trivia: When they made the Kiefer Sutherland action movie Phone Booth all the way back in 2002, even then they had trouble finding a rela-life phone booth to use for the production.
My kids? As long as they keep their phones charged and are within range of a signal, they'll have help at their fingertips.
9. Needing to Use an Actual Flashlight
If you've got a smartphone, you have a flashlight. Simple as that--just turn on the camera flash. In fact, most phones have an easy-to-find button that automatically turns on the flash, becuase they know people use it like a flashlight.
10. Looking at a Paper Map
We still use paper maps on occasion to plan out huge road trips, but gone are the days of neatly folded-up maps carefully stowed in the car's glove box—or badly folded maps stuffed into them.
Our kids won't even need to do the whole MapQuest thing of printing out directions from the internet. Because Waze and Google Maps exist.
11. Rewinding VHS Tapes
Also fallen by the wayside are VHS tapes and (for the most part) DVDs. In our town, the last video rental store aside from Redbox closed up shop this month.
Our kids will never know the tedium of rewinding VHS tapes before returning them to the video store, nor the outrage of popping in a newly rented tape only to discover that its previous user had failed to "be kind, rewind."
12. Needing to Go to the Library to Look Up Stuff
These days, when my son asks me how tall a professional athlete is or where the world's second highest mountain is located, I can look it up on my phone in a couple of seconds. Or just ask Siri, Alexa, Google Home, or some other voice-activated gadget.
Back before the internet, we'd have to guess—or visit a library to figure it out.
13. Blowing on Video Game Cartridges
My kids will never have to blow on the connectors in their video game cartridges, because their games aren't on cartridges any more.
They come on discs now, and even those are on their way out as online gaming becomes more and more popular with services like Steam.
14. Using a Pencil on a Cassette Tape
Cassette tapes were awesome—until the tape didn't spool properly in the player and you had to intervene with a pencil to untwist the strand of tape and then wind it up correctly. Kids don't even bother much with CDs anymore, which have their own set of annoyances.
I can't help but wonder what tech will look like 30 years in the future. Will future kids never know the struggles of using a touchscreen or paying for Wi-Fi?
Main photo: Marian Ladiona/Flickr.