People Explain Which Things They Had Growing Up That They Wish Kids Had Today

Album and turntable sitting beneath window
Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

With millennials now reaching their thirties and forties, many are looking back on the childhood they had compared to the ones they're witnessing now.

With technology advances and a constant need to impress, these two worlds of childhood are undeniably different.

Redditor professorf asked:

"What did your generation have that kids need more of today?"

Unstructured Playtime

"Unstructured playtime outside with others that are a variety of ages. Not under the eyes of an adult."

"This was my favorite part of being a kid. There were 10-12 kids within a six-year age range on my street and we'd all be out playing between multiple blocks, houses, and wooded areas. Our parents would just yell or whistle from the porch at dinner time, and sometimes we'd go back out again after!"

"Beyond playing and having fun, being unsupervised and big kids amongst little kids provides so much mental enrichment that kids don't get sitting in front of a screen being constantly tended to. Problem-solving, imagination, cooperation, taking care of each other, sharing, working things out, navigation, self-awareness... on and on."

- EarthCadence

Ghosts in the Graveyard

"I miss playing 'Ghosts in the Graveyard'!"

"I grew up with an actual cemetery in my backyard (once you hopped a fence, of course) and you haven't really played 'Ghosts in the Graveyard' until you played it in an actual graveyard!"

- Fred_the_skeleton

Computer Literacy

"Typing classes. Most Gen Z/Alpha kids grew up with tablets and maybe a laptop, no desktops. Teachers assume they know how to type, but they've only done it with their thumbs, they don't have the muscle memory for a traditional keyboard."

"The ability to type on a physical keyboard is really important in the working world, and a lot fewer kids can do it well these days."

"We need to bring back typing classes, along with how file/folder/directory systems work in general, a lot of college students don't know how to use them!"

- cinemachick

Imaginative Play

"Toys that were just toys. Not everything had to be educational. Just let kids play and explore and discover. Let them get bored."

- Reddit

It Takes a Village

"Village grandparents. My parents would leave me with my grandparents for months during summer. We had a large, large yard with many old collapsing or collapsed buildings, a variety of animals roaming around, and a few gardens."

"I’d climb trees, and buildings, play with the animals, and go fishing in the small river near the house with a self-made fishing rod made out of a bottle, rope, and an old nail."

"I never caught anything. Best time of my life."

- John_McTaffy

Thinking Outside the Box

"Freedom to explore, invent, and create. Today's kids are so scheduled with activities and online all of the time. Getting out in the world without an agenda would be helpful."

"I'm now seeing college graduates who have a hard time doing anything other than following explicit instructions from their boss. They don't problem-solve. They don't innovate on their own."

"I can teach someone numbers or the structure of loops or conditional statements. I can't fix an issue with someone not understanding why they would choose a certain solution or not being able to relate what they are doing to the software module's objectives. I see perfect Leetcode problems with no understanding of the problem they're solving or even why they want to be an engineer. Or what to do if something varies slightly from what they memorized."

"AI will take over a lot of jobs if kids can't think nonlinearly or relate information. ChatGPT already writes code akin to what I'm seeing from young engineers. It doesn't have human reasoning about the problem and why you'd need to solve it a particular way, but it sure codes a variety of solutions quickly. A senior engineer can replace the junior engineers who don't think through the problem with AI."

- LilMick786


"I feel like kids have no tolerance for 'boredom.' I try to tell the youngins to let their minds wander and allow thoughts to flow, but they feel compelled to stuff every moment with games or videos."

"They’re not even enjoying music anymore. It’s all, 'Can I play this song? It’s from a meme.' And they change the song before it’s over because there’s less appreciation for composition anymore."

- Specific-Pen-1132

Lacking Patience

"No patience. That's a side effect of the tech culture. My friend's kid is 10, and she's only known the instant gratification of TV, iPad, and Nintendo Switch all without ads. She never has to wait. If she's losing a game, she hits the reset button. Doesn't like a song, she skips."

"The rest of us grew up with limited or no tech. We had commercials on TV. Our favorite shows were only on once a day at a specific time. We were prisoners to whatever the DJ was playing on the radio. Sometimes our friends were grounded, so we'd have to play alone."

"Now I have friends with kids who place limits on the 'electronic babysitter.' These kids do have patience and they use their imagination. So there's hope."

- popcornstuffedbra

Basic Connections

"I love technology for its educational pieces. I avoid my kids on YouTube etc. They are aware of those people but not how you access it from their tablet. Coding, PBS Games, reading, writing, math, stem games."

"Kids today need time to just be kids. I believe study hall should exist after their main subjects. They can do homework, tutoring, and extracurriculars afternoon until their parents pick them up or they ride home on a bus. It should be a time of exploration, soft social skills through board games, etc."

"They are missing, and even daily living skills because the world is always on the go."

"They need access to actual food. Vegetable gardens, rabbit pens, etc. Helping others. Time to just be kids, make mistakes and get messy without it being filmed. We all f**k up that doesn't mean it needs to be filmed and posted or shamed for it."

"They need time to build resilience, kindness, and just to be with their family and friends. Access to actual public transportation. I could go on and on."

- Taterandabean

Being Held Accountable

"Accountability! Especially in schools. In my district, they think it’s unfair to the children and can hurt a child’s self-esteem if they’re held back in school. So, even if they never do a single assignment, flunk every class, and learn nothing, they advance to the next grade."

"Because of this, I have sixth graders who don’t know how to spell anything, don’t know punctuation, have no idea what to do with commas, and have no clue that they need to capitalize the first letter of a sentence. They don’t know how to write a paragraph. They are disrespectful to teachers and just don’t care because it doesn’t matter if they flunk. It is just sad."

- meow1983

Enjoying Nature

"The outdoors without electronics. We have nature trails that border where I work and when I see people out 'enjoying' the great outdoors, most of them have their faces buried in their phones."

"There is so much beauty in nature and being able to observe it can teach a person a lot."

- crewchief1949

Less Technology Dependence

"Growing up in the '90s/early '00s was a lot of fun. H**l, I didn’t get my first cell phone until ninth grade."

"Kids are surprised when I tell them I had to share it with my brother, had no internet access, and it only had enough memory to store 50 texts. If you reached that, you had to delete some in order to receive new ones. Oh, and I got so good at texting without looking at my phone."

- WolverineJive_Turkey

Poor Attitudes

"I'm Gen Z but I see older people being a lot more optimistic. If something fails, they try something else. A lot of young people are so fed up with life (me included), they can barely function and they either isolate themselves or indulge in obscene hedonism."

- pensiero_97

"Free time (too much homework in my opinion)."

"Privacy (social media and constant connection via a phone/laptop)."

"Downtime (time to just chill and do nothing, they feel like every moment needs to be filled or they’re missing out)."

"Ignorance (they’re introduced to world/political issues way younger)."

- Strude187

Kids Being Kids

"A youth without having to be perfectly styled and ready for social media..."

"We played. Outside. In the mud and snow and in the summer's heat. We came back with dirty clothes, freezing cold noses, and wet from jumping into the nearby lake. We didn't care about our clothes, about our "style" and happily wore the same green t-shirt and jeans every day (of course, cleaned)."

"We knew when to come home , not because we had a smartphone or a smartwatch, but because of the sunset. I'll never forget sitting on the porch, watching the sunset, eating ice cream, and being completely and undeniably unworried."

"No one captured every third step on digital videos and posted them on every single social media platform. No one needed 'likes' and 'retweets.' No one bullied you because you didn't have the iPhone 383637 S for ˘$3000..."

"We were KIDS. Just. Kids. Not miniature adults with bad manners and mobile phone addiction."

- DieDobby

For people who grew up in the early 2000s or sooner, these memories are undeniably nostalgic, and even sad, knowing that today's kids won't share in the same memories.

The biggest takeaways seemed to be the push for a full schedule and impressing the internet, when really, the point used to be to unplug and relax with friends.

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