Childhood: There’s an App for That


Image from familiesintheloop.com

The world stopped turning whenever I acquired a new Barbie. As a child this was the most exciting event that could possibly occur. My eight year old brain could not fathom why the babysitter’s grandson enjoyed sitting for hours on the uncomfortable hardwood floor with a Nintendo control in his hand. I distinctly remember his frustration when the game would screw up. He would jerk the cartridge out of the console and blow the dust out of it with all the air his lungs could possibly hold. I preferred dreaming up lavish fantasies and acting them out with my dolls. Video games were too confining. In my opinion, there was no room for imagination when the main goal was to survive and excel to the next level. I find that same determination with today’s generation of young children.  With every new technological advance these young people find themselves working toward one common goal: get to the next level. They want the smallest MP3 player with the biggest capacity for music, the thinnest TV with the most channels, and so on and so on. I do not necessarily view these achievements as a bad thing, I admit that I have fallen victim to the inescapable appeal of the iPod, but my generation’s childhood definitely differs from today’s adolescents.

Ten years ago I was lugging around a neon green CD player with pink buttons. I had one of those CD cases that held about fifty disks and had a handle on the side so that it could be toted around like a purse. My collection included Britney Spears, NSync, and the Backstreet Boys. Today, my fourteen year old brother carries around an iPod touch. It is 3.56 ounces and holds thousands of songs, videos,  pictures, and apps. And unlike my portable CD player, it doesn’t skip every time you bump into something.

Ten years ago I was renting VHS tapes from Blockbuster, most of them Disney movies. Today, a thirteen year old can download a movie straight onto his or her laptop computer in less than 5 minutes. And I can guarantee they are not watching “The Little Mermaid”. The age gap between these two generations is not a large one, but our experiences growing up with technology are vastly different.

The world has progressed an unbelievable amount in such a short period of time. The technological advances allow for the younger generation to access things that I never would have been exposed to as a child. “Lizzie McGuire” was the only show worth watching, in my opinion. I had no desire to watch “grown up” television, unless “Full House” was on. Everything else might as well have been the news, because I enjoyed watching children’s television programs. After all, I was a child. Fast forward to a time when it is perfectly fine for a twelve year old to watch “South Park”, a show that is obviously aired for the viewing pleasure of mature adults, not young children. Their minds are not developed enough to understand the content that is being presented to them when they watch programs with TV-MA ratings.

South Park” is just one example. Kids can flip through channels and see any number of things including profane language, sexuality, and violence. When I was little they did not curse on television as much as they do now. Today we have elementary aged children who know more about certain subject matter than they should. “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, for example, not only makes the viewer come to the assumption that all American teenagers are promiscuous, but it romanticizes teen pregnancy. The mother may be pregnant in high school but her friends will stick by her side and her parents will help her take care of the baby while she continues her education. In a real life situation, the chances of a happy ending are slim.

Not all aspects of the world today are bad. A lot of good has come out of many advances and has set the younger generation up for success in the future. New and improved methods have accelerated the world of medicine. More and more students are choosing to further their education by attending college. Through the years people have learned from their mistakes and have bettered themselves because of that learning process. Today’s generation of young people may be exposed to more at a younger age, but as the world keeps growing our children must grow up faster and adapt to the changes that will continue to be made.

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Comments

  1. Someone who was 24 when you were 10 could probably have written a very similar article at that point. I did enjoy the read though.

    • Heather Flippen says:

      I had never really considered it from that point of view when writing this article, but instead spoke from what I have seen and experienced growing up in a constantly changing society. Thank you for your comment.

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