Modern Technology:

Shaping a Different Kind of Childhood

By Amy Temple

The Hoffman Agency, London

The other day a phone book was delivered to my door, much to the confusion of my daughter. She couldn’t understand what its purpose was. 

“Why do we need a book of numbers?” she asked.

I can’t blame her. In our house, many of her questions are answered with, “I’ll just Google it.”

This got me thinking about other things we no longer have a need for, and how their replacements will shape my daughter’s childhood as their predecessors had shaped mine.

Poloroid photos - Modern Technology

Polaroid photographs: I miss the yellow-brown tinge it gave to everything. It was a great equalizer! No one ever actually looked good in them. Today it is rare my daughter even sees actual photos. For her, reminiscing is done by viewing the photo slideshow on our PC screen saver.

VHS tapes - Modern Technology

 VHS: The time it took to rewind a movie gave you plenty of time to get everything ready; popcorn, duvet, visit to the bathroom, etc. You learned patience, whether you wanted to or not. There is no greater feeling of satisfaction when the whirring noise of rewind finally stops with a rewarding click. With DVDs today, it is all about instant gratification.

Road Map - Modern Technology

Maps: What’s the fun of being without a real, physical map? Yes, there is no longer the frustration of trying to fold the darn thing back into its original creases, but there is also no joy in such an achievement. And with maps now neatly incorporated into our phones, there is no risk of having it fly out the car window (yes, this has actually happened to me and I’ve never lived it down).

Cassette tape - Modern Technology

Cassette tapes: How else do you tell that special boy you’re mad about just how much you love him if you can’t make him a mixed tape containing your deepest emotions? Sharing a playlist on Spotify just doesn’t cut it …

Record Player - Modern technology

Record player: how are children going to decipher song lyrics incorrectly if all their music is crystal clear? Where is the fun in that? How will they learn to debate what they think is correct if never confronted with an embarrassing reality? I myself just learned the correct lyrics to a song that was out during my childhood. Apparently, Tears for Fears thinks that “everybody wants to rule the world” not “fool around.” Go figure.

Yes, I realize I am coming dangerously close to sounding like the sentimental elderly lady next door. It could have something do with constantly being asked, “Back in the olden days did you …?”

But what about you? What “technologies” do you miss most from your childhood?

Images via LaertesCTB, Orin Zebest, thejourney1972 (South America addicted), Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com and Arun Katiyar

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