There was a recent tweet that went around asking you to tweet something from your childhood that kids nowadays wouldn’t understand and it got me thinking…..

was it better to be a kid in the 80’s or now?

As I write this my little fella is in the sitting room watching back to back cartoons on specially dedicated kids channel (one of many of these channels) and yet he’ll still exclaim “I’m bored!”, quite regularly. 

Not only that but if there’s ‘nothing on’ with the press of a button on the remote he can bring up hundreds of already recorded kids shows from the Sky box planner (or even download new ones almost instantly). That’s before you even think about Netflix or an android streaming box!!

Growing up in the 80’s:

We had ‘Saturday morning cartoons‘, that’s it. Sleep in and you’ve missed a whole weeks worth of them!! (Not that I slept in, I was a hyperactive child)

Did you know we only had cartoons for 3 hours on a Saturday morning when I was a kid?” I shout in to Ben. 

What?”, he says with a puzzled look on his face. Then after explaining the concept and the fact that I only had 3 tv channels growing up, he added  “How did you survive?

Music: then versus now

So we then discussed music. (Not how crap modern music is, that’s a whole other blog). I asked him what his favourite song is…he initially said “I love loads of music” and thIen when I pushed him he added “The one you play in the car and we all go mad to”

after that he said “Oh oh oh! I love the hot dog song from ‘Mickey Mouse clubhouse” (probably much more age appropriate for a 6 year old to get down)

it took me all of 30 seconds to find both these songs on the internet. Could you imagine having a resource like that in the 80’s!!

Back in the 80’s

If you wanted to hear your favourite song you would most likely need to buy the entire album, usually on cassette (remember them!). 

side note: have you tried showing your kid a cassette and asking them what’s it is? 

Well I just did. Well I showed him a photo of one (I don’t have any hanging around that I know of)

When was the last time you held one of these babies?  

When was the last time you held one of these babies?  

“Ben, what do you think that is?” 

Some kind of money machine?” He said, with both his left eyebrow and voice tone raising as he talked. 

(‘I love you, you’re like blog content gold’,  I thought)

“No, Actually Daddy it’s a tape!!” He said, beaming.   

“Who’d you know that?” I enquiried in a rather shocked voice.

“it was in a video I saw with old people in it”, he added (with a smirk)

(Old people, I resent that! 30 is the new 20 and all that) 

So I tried him out with the following.  

Do you remember having to fix tapes that had been eaten? 

Do you remember having to fix tapes that had been eaten? 

Do you know why you’d need a pencil with a cassette then (smartass)?”

*I didn’t actually say smartass (just thought it)

Of course!”, he replied 

(‘ah come on’ I thought…. Your conversations are usually full of blog content).

   “it’s for writing the name of the songs on it, Silly” 

Well, not quite what I was after but you gotta love the little guy.  

Anyway I’ve sidetracked, these days any song you want is at the touch of your fingers. When we were growing up you either had to own the album or make a request to a radio station.  

If you were really smart you could sit patiently by the radio; sellotape over the corner of your tape (remember that?), two fingers over the play and record buttons on your cassette recorder in the hope that the DJ didn’t talk all over the song you wanted to record. (Check out Tommy Tiernan below talking on this very subject: legend)

And now we move onto:

Computer games

When I was a kid we got an Amstrad cpc 464 for Christmas. 

The commodore 64's competitor (we were the odd ones out in our street) 

The commodore 64’s competitor (we were the odd ones out in our street) 

I remember these also used tapes (and we felt like hackers when we realised you could copy games using a double tape recorder). You could put in a game, press play and then go out to play football for about 10 minutes before it was loaded. 10 minutes of loading for ‘ultra realistic’ classics such as Paperboy. 

I spent hours dodging dogs and throwing papers into puddles.  

I spent hours dodging dogs and throwing papers into puddles.  

Nowadays it’s all tablets and consoles with entire games downloaded and started up instantly. 

Theres enough free games on Google play store to kill an 80’s child and yet the children of today are like ‘oh there’s nothing to do’. 

which brings me round to:

Boredom versus instant gratification

Because we didn’t have the technology of today we had to use our imagination to combat boredom (I remember after I first saw Jason and the Argonauts that I fought imaginary stop motion skeletons for a few weeks). As previously discussed, there were no cartoons during the week (unless you had one of them ‘new fangled’ VHS or Betamax machines). For the rest of us ‘mere mortals’ we could; play hide and seek, tip the can or football out on the  road with our mates (and course you went straight home once the street lights went on).

Modern day kids don’t seem to have as much real life friends, social interaction and exercise as we did in the eighties. Has technology and modern helicopter parenting caused this? 

Ah.....the good old days.  BMXs and Choppers over homemade ramps

Ah…..the good old days.  BMXs and Choppers over homemade ramps

Is instant gratification the reason our kids can’t concentrate in school?

Modern dad kids seem to always be on their tablets and demanding their own phone because their friends have one. (My wife got her first phone when she was 18 because she was away in college. I didn’t have one till I was in my 20’s)

I love technology it but I feel it’s making kids grow up too quick. We didn’t have to worry about ‘screen time’ in the 80’s and I definitely see a change in attitude in Ben after he’s used the tablet

Instant gratification has also given today’s kids an ‘I want it all and I want it now’ kinda attitude and I don’t think this is great for their mental health now or in the future. 

  • Am I just a grumpy old man?
  • Is technology making things better or worse?
  • Would you prefer your kids to live in a simpler time?
  • Am I just being nostalgic? 


Let me know in in the comments.  

Daddy P.