Growing up in the Eighties and Nineties, there are huge elements of my childhood which would seem unbelievably alien to children of my kids’ generation, for better or for worse. Lots of people focus on the negative sides of modern life and it’s effect on childhood, but I was thinking about some of the ways that modern life actually allows us to be better parents than previous generations, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.
If, like I did, you grew up in a family of smokers, there’s a good chance that you were exposed to a LOT of second-hand smoke. I remember sitting at the table in my Nan’s house, surrounded by no less than 5 adults, all puffing away. These days, we have a lot more knowledge about the damage that second hand smoke does, and have brilliant things like a ‘vaping kit‘ which allows grown ups to get their nicotine fix without putting the kids’ health at risk.
When I was little, kids were allowed to play out in the street or parks and once you left the house, that was it – the only way you could be contacted is if your Mum came to the park in her pinny and slippers to shout “YOUR DINNER IS READY!” from the gate. Now, we’ve got mobile phones which means we can keep in touch at the touch of a screen and even have apps which allow us to see the exact location of our kids at all times.
Homework is an arduous task for any generation, but the availability of information these days is SO much better. In the 90’s, very few people had home internet so if you needed to know something you either went to the library or looked it up in the (very probably out of date) encyclopedias if your parents had them. Now, parents are able to wow their kids with their ability to help with homework from any internet-enabled device.
Aside from the aforementioned encyclopedias, and perhaps a bit of hand-me-down knowledge from your Nan, anything health related was a matter for a doctor. Now, I’m not saying that internet diagnosis is always a good thing but I see SO many Mums getting their minds put at rest through Facebook groups and online forums and it means that we don’t have to drag out kids to the germ-infested doctors waiting room, only to be told it’s just a viral rash.
In the Nineties, unless you were one of the very privileged few who could afford satellite TV, kids programmes were confined to a couple of hours after school, before Neighbours (or Home and Away, if you were a CITV kid…) and the 6 ‘o clock news came on. Now, we’re able to provide our kids with 24 hour entertainment, if we want to, thanks to the myriad kids channels, Netflix, Amazon Prime and even YouTube, making our generation the official busters of boredom!