I'm on a reminiscing journey lately. One of my daughters graduates from high school in May and the other turns 21 in May. As I think over their lives and what has changed with them I also find myself thinking about how much their worlds have changed.
Any mother with children has answered the question, "Hey mom, how old were you when...?" My favorite was when my youngest was in about fifth grade and she said, "Hey mom, how old were you when you got your first cell phone?" because she was arguing for her own with no success. I took great pleasure in saying "32." She was stunned. Of course, I didn't tell her that was pretty much the norm at that time, in fact I relished in the fact that it shut her down completely. I know...I can be mean.
But I've been thinking about things my 21 year old will say to her children one day about technology. In her lifetime things have exponentially exploded in the virtual world. So here is my "BACK WHEN I WAS A KID" List for her:
- Back when I was a kid I didn't get my own cell phone until I was in 9th grade..and it was a flip phone- all you could do was make calls and text. Yes, I remember when texting started as a way to communicate. And I would get in trouble for going over my texting limit every month. Yes, there was a limit on how many texts you could send.
- Back when I was a kid I didn't get my first smart phone until I was in high school and then I would get in trouble for using too much data each month. Yes, there was a limit on how much data you could use. Oh yeah, you don't know what a phone is. It was a small handheld device that never left our sides so that we could be connected to others constantly. If something went wrong with it we were crazy upset. And yes, they would break, especially the screens. You have no idea how many screens your grandparents replaced for me and my sister over the years!
- Back when I was a kid, we didn't use technology in the classroom. We weren't even allowed to use our phones to look stuff up even if we had one or to bring our iPads or laptops to school to use in the classroom. It was too hard for teachers to make sure we were on task.
- Back when I was a kid I wasn't allowed to have a social media account until high school. My mom wouldn't let me. Yes, I did set some up without her knowing or I used a friends but I found out later she knew about them.
- Back when I was a kid my parents didn't know where I was all the time. It wasn't until I got my first cell phone that they could "track me."
- Back when I was a kid, I started working for the family business and your grandparents could watch me at work via cameras but my car didn't have a GPS on it so most of us with older cars remained off the parental grid.
- Back when I was a kid we used paper and coin money or a debit card to pay for things. If you lost either, you were out of luck and it became a big hassle.
- Back when I was a kid we had to go to school every day and stay from 8:00-3:00 from kindergarten - twelfth grade. It didn't matter if you could finish your work early, there was a thing called required seat time. What's a grade? I'll explain that in a bit.
- Back when I was a kid you took a class and if you didn't understand something you failed it. The class kept moving on and you might or might not understand the next unit but it didn't matter. There was no time for mastery of concepts.
- Back when I was a kid you had these stand alone subject areas all day long, you moved to the next class because there was a bell that told you to do so. You sat and listened and followed the procedures for each class and did homework. You got a few "electives" but most of the school day was based on required subjects you had to take.
- Yeah, back when I was a kid there was homework. Stuff you were expected to do at home after going to school all day and if you didn't understand it in class it often meant you did that homework wrong and got a bad grade on it the next day. Yeah, homework sucked.
- Back when I was a kid there were grades. What are grades? Oh, that was a letter ranking you received on work you did based on your understanding of the work. A's were the best and F's meant you couldn't move on to the next grade. Yeah, there were two kinds of grades- I'm talking about a ranking grade for work done right now. Yes, it was confusing.
- Yeah, there were grades. Back when I was a kid we went to school with kids the same age as us. We were placed in age groups our entire education career. It wasn't based on when someone mastered things but when they were born.
- Back when I was a kid tv's had big backs on them and were shaped like a box and you couldn't watch anything you wanted to, you had to watch whatever was on the channels at that time.
- Back when I was a kid you trusted the news most of the time but that changed when I was in high school and college.
- Back when I was kid there was no such thing as touch screens, you had to use a keyboard to input anything. What's a touch screen? You know it's the thing Granna Julie uses when we go visit her...it used to be called a laptop.
- Back when I was a kid, wearables were just becoming a thing. My first wearable was a fitbit that would tell me when I got a text or call and it monitored my movement but that's all it could do.
- Back when I was a kid we had mandatory summers off from school but in college I could choose to go to school in the summer to get ahead.
- Back when I was a kid in school we had to memorize facts, lots of facts, and we were tested on whether we got them memorized.
- Back when I was a kid we learned cursive. What's cursive? It's a kind of writing style that was used. Yes, it's why you can't read the notes dad and I write for each other that we don't want you to read.
- Back when I was a kid we wrote on paper for everything and we read everything on paper. It felt different from today's paper and couldn't be saved in the clouds. If you lost your homework, you really lost it and yes, the dog could actually eat your homework.
- Back when I was a kid you had to drive a car yourself all the time. They couldn't drive for you at all. And they didn't warn you if you were about to have a wreck.
- Back when I was a kid almost everyone had set work days. 8-5 was expected but most people worked more hours and you had to be at the office with everyone else. Few people worked from home.
- Back when I was a kid social media was just beginning. Many people created terrible digital footprints for themselves back then because they didn't realize it was going to follow them for their whole lives. It would be nice if there was a "do over" for that period in history but there isn't.
- Back when I was a kid parents, teachers and kids were learning how to navigate the powerful world of technology together. It was all new and changing rapidly.
Yes, things were different during my lifetime. You should ask Granna Julie about black and white tv's without remotes, cars without safety things like seatbelts and air bags, and parents not knowing where their kids were all day long.