Parenting sure has changed over the past 20 or so years. Just ask anyone that grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Back then, our parents didn’t have to worry about naked social media posts of their kids floating around; school shootings weren’t such a significant problem as they are now; childhood obesity wasn’t the epidemic it is today. Still, that doesn’t mean everything was all roses and rainbows back then. In fact, there were plenty of things our '90s parents worried about that are of no concern to us today.
Some of the things they worried about weren’t exactly reasonable. For example, fashions of the ‘90s may have had our parents scratching their heads. Why are kids wearing gigantic pants and what could they be hiding in them? They might have also been a bit concerned at constantly calling things “da bomb," especially at a time when there were people like the Unabomber running around and actually bombing places.
Then there are concerns from the ‘90s that have continued on and, to a certain extend, have remained concerns for the parents of today. Like fearing that your kids will end up kidnapped a la Jacob Wetterling and Adam Walsh in the ‘80s and Jimmy Ryce in the mid-’90s. Or the fact that our environment is still going to hell (except now we actually talk about climate change).
At least there are a few things that our parents were overly concerned about that we can finally rest easy on, or have at least learned to worry less about and, instead, have decided to focus our fearful efforts elsewhere. For example:
Remember when your entire kindergarten class came down with a fever that included bizarre spots appearing all over your body? Remember how goddamn itchy they were, and how you were told again and again not to scratch? Parents in the ‘90s must have just loathed the day their kid came home looking like a red marker had attacked them. Fortunately by the mid-’90s, a chickenpox vaccine was developed and parents today could care less about this long-forgotten disease.
Not Knowing Which Video Games Weren’t Meant For Kids
Remember when you couldn’t tell which video games were for kids and which were for adults? Our parents sure do. Back in the ‘90s, they had to guess or perhaps purchase the game and then stick around to find out how terrible (or not) they were for us. Then, in 1994, the Entertainment Software Rating Board ( ESRB) was created to ease parent’s fears by categorizing games as Early Childhood, Kids to Adults, Teens, etc. Because parents of today grew up playing video games, we know how to differential child appropriate video games, from the inappropriate ones. Sorry, kids!
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, a phenomenon known as acid rain (basically rain that is more acidic than usual and that can negatively affect plants and animals) was something our parents grew up with. In the ‘90s, we became more environmentally conscious and created the Clean Air Act in order to reduce this prevailing problem, but some parents still worried what would happen if their kids played outside in this polluted rain. These days, we’ve got bigger fish to fry, like climate change.
Kids Watching Too Much 'Are You Afraid Of The Dark'
When it came to Saturday nights in the ‘90s, nothing was better than sitting on the couch for SNICK. That’s when a new episode of Are You Afraid Of The Dark would air, and boy did we love scaring ourselves. Our parents may have worried that we wouldn’t be sleeping after watching these, and well, they were probably right.
Strangers On The Internet
People parenting when access to the internet in the ‘90s became a thing, fell into two camps. One camp was filled with folks who were terrified of who their kids might be talking to online, and the other of parents who just didn’t know their kids could be talking to potentially dangerous strangers on the internet. Those who fell into the former camp were relieved when Net Nanny and other such programs appeared in the mid-’90s. These days, we don’t worry as much because kids tend to mainly communicate with their school friends online (and even if they talk to strangers, we all know kids will find a way around whatever expensive and complicated software we find).
Not Being Able To Get In Touch With Their Kids
Back in the day, parents had to rely on landlines (and in the late ‘90s, beepers) to communicate with their kids when they went out. These days, practically everyone has a cellphone and access to social media. Plus, if your kid lies and says their phone died, you can always just creep onto their Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat to see what they (or their friends) were really up to.
Kids Running Up The Phone Bill
Speaking of phones, most of us didn’t have cellphones in the ‘90s (and if we did, they were those heavy brick things Zach Morris sometimes carried around). One thing’s for sure, though, our parents worried that we might run up the phone bill by making international calls to our pen pal in Taipei. Or worse, calling Miss Cleo or some other 1-800 number that charged by the minute.
Missing An Important Call Because Your Kid Is Tying Up The Phone Line
Remember your parents yelling at you to hang up because they were waiting for a call? Parents had to seriously lay down the law when it came to taking up the land line. These days, parents simply live their lives separately via their own phones and e-mail. What do teens and their parents fight about these days, anyway?
Kids Watching (Probably Scrambled) Porn On TV
When you think about it, the ‘90s were seriously innocent. You had to pay for porn back then, but sometimes you’d luck out and find some scrambled sexiness on your TV late at night. Your parents probably worried you’d find these programs and be tainted for life.
Those same people (many of whom are now grandparents) would probably faint if they understood just how much free and easily accessible porn is on the internet. As parents, we can’t really worry too much, because our kids will undoubtedly find porn anyway. Instead, we take the high road and have conversations with our kids about sex and pornography early on in hopes they’ll understand it’s pure (and often not that great) fantasy.
Having To Haul Your Kid To The Library For Research Before It Closed
Does anyone remember what life was like before Google and Wikipedia? Does anyone remember what doing research projects for school was like before the internet became a thing? I bet our deadlines were longer, that's for sure.
Back then, parents had to worry about taking their kids to the library frequently and before it closed, so their kids could do what they needed to do to complete that one research paper or that one projects. Nowadays, kids can do all their research on their damn tablets.
Keeping Your Children Entertained On Long Trips
These days, most kids on trips will be content on any number of tech tools they can get their hands on. There's no more, "Are we there yet?" and a parent's hope for some peace and quiet doesn't rest solely on a GameBoy. Now kids have tablets with a number of games, cell phones that connect to Netflix and YouTube, portable DVD players, plus a slew of other electronic toys to keep them quiet.
Your Kid Scratching Your CDs
Who carries around CDs anymore? This relic of the ‘90s may still exist, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a parent who offers a CD to their kid. Instead, they'll give their offspring a Spotify account or access to Pandora or XM Radio. The odds of your toddler scratching up your Violent Femmes CD is such a thing of the past.
Your Kid Jamming Something Inside The VCR
While we still have yet to solve the problem of kids sticking their fingers into electrical outlets, back in the ‘90s, parents also worried about things getting stuck inside VCRs. You know, those large boxes that could play video tapes? You know, before we had DVDs and long before we had streaming television and movie services? They might also get something stuck inside their Super Nintendo, but these days it seems like kids know better than to jam up their Wii or Playstation.