For those of us too close to 40yrs than we’d like to admit, we all remember growing up in the 80’s, something I for one am kinda proud of. Perms, stonewashed jeans, Grotbags, BROS and Walkman’s are all things I’m sure we all remember vividly from that time in our lives, but sitting in my room all day playing video games alone when the sun is shining was definitely not a thing back then.
Being a kid in the 80’s was so much fun, especially with older sisters to play with. Besides the fact that our parents didn’t breathe down our necks, and there was never any adult supervision outdoors when we’d wander off to the park, river or swimming baths, looking back now the freedom we had was immense, and the norm, we just took it for granted. Our parents were pretty easy going, we didn’t really have a structured, timetabled childhood, and letting ourselves in from school, home alone to make ourselves afternoon tea, promising not to burn the house down was pretty standard if they were both working. We’d be out over the station, or in the car park opposite our house, climbing up on top of the generators, you know, the normal things that kids do… or at least used to do.
Nowadays, with 2 of my own, aged 12 and 9, the difference between my childhood and theirs is miles apart, although their upbringing very similar. The traits and values I learnt as a child have been taught and passed down, and I’m proud of how the children have turned out thus far, but from an amusement point of view, I shudder at some of the things around us which impact the children’s lives, and their fun.
The outdoors hasn’t changed. There’s still parks, still swimming pools, still tadpoles waiting to be caught and blackberries waiting to be picked, still sun (ok, and rain but that never stopped us), and still fresh air. So what makes nowadays for a young child / teenager so different? Technology, that’s what.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a technology hater, in fact I use it a lot for the day job, this blog, and for myself personally but what I don’t let it do is let it take over, let it rule my day, my life or my fun. The difference is that I wasn’t brought up on it, whereas kids these days were almost born knowing how to navigate an iPad, but have no idea what a Speak and Spell is, which is unthinkable! We all had Spectrum’s and Commodores back in the day, playing the likes of Chucky Egg, Operation Wolf and Double Dragon, but playing outdoors getting grubby was way more fun! These days, when kids are ‘offline’, away from their PS4 or Xbox, they have no idea what to do with themselves, they’re board, and here lies the problem.
Reports suggest that some parents will let children play console’s all day to give them something to do or to ‘get them out of their hair’, which is just crazy. Kids should be making their own fun, out in the fresh air, building dens, climbing walls, drawing on the pavements, making obstacle courses (parkour isn’t a new thing by the way!) and playing football with their friends on fields, not on Fifa.
Adverts and materialism doesn’t help, kids having what they want when they want it because their friends have it, a must have game so they can play together even though their alone doing it – all I wanted as a kid was to play outside, act out every Grease scene as a Pink Lady, and master Daniel-San’s Crane Kick move (nailed it!).
But besides the internet’s compression on natural, old skool fun, technology has changed so many other things too, like how your Mother used to yell up the street for you to come in for dinner, or how the street lights going off was a signal that it was bath time, now it’s a text message, or a WhatsApp.
Who else remembers lighting your own bonfire in the lane behind your house on Nov 5th without getting into trouble, when we didn’t need to wear helmets and knee pads when riding our BMX Raleigh Burner through the gulley’s on the jump course we made with stones and wood, and when our memories used to be in a printed photo albums and not an iPhone albums.
As kids back then, our life was like The Goonies, dodging trouble, having adventures and fun with friends, getting dirty jumping in muddy puddles way before Peppa, and don’t get me wrong, it’s all good now, we’re kinda strict parents with the whole gaming thing but the kids are happy, this lifestyle it’s all normal to them. But because we lived that era, because we lived that vibe of free fun and freedom, it’s so hard not to see how different life has become for our kids.
Pigeon Street, Garbage Pail Kids, Mr Benn, Timmy Mallet, Scott and Charlene, Rainbow Brite, Puffalump, Wizzbit – literally tons of things I remember that made up my early years, which complimented the awesome outdoor life, and I’m sure our kids will be reeling off the likes to their children in 30 years’ time, but telling them how they used to sit in their bedrooms for 8 hours a day, talking to their friends over a headset is nowhere near as good a childhood tale, and not one my kids will be telling.
It’s true what they say, the 80’s will never die, the neon glow will be around for decades to come I’m sure, and I certainly won’t be forgetting it any time soon, especially not with my Easy 80’s soundtrack, which granted I listen to on Spotify on my iPhone! If only they would bring back the original Adidas Torsion, 2 for a penny Mojo chews and Top of the pops… Meh, I should be so lucky (See what I did there?)