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Today's Family Magazine

Mommy chronicles: Then and now

By Stacy Turner

Most people would agree that technology makes life easier, and with each new generation comes new technological advances.  But each new advance brings a slew of new issues and concerns.  As kids, we’d roll our eyes when our parents told us how easy we had it.  We’d laugh at Dad’s story of having to walk to school in the rain or snow, uphill, both ways.  And how Grandma had to stretch a dollar until George Washington screamed.  Times are very different, that’s for sure.  But being a teen is still difficult.  Not only do they need to steer clear of drugs, alcohol, and STDs like when we were kids, they have even more to contend with.

We watched music videos on TV, and there weren’t many choices for channels, even if you had cable.  Having a home computer was a big deal, and going online meant you tied up the phone line waiting forever to connect to AOL.  Video games required lots of imagination, since the graphics were less than stellar.  If you wanted to watch a movie, you went to the local video store to pick out a VHS tape.  Telephones had cords, and most were on the wall.  If you were lucky, you had one of those fancy cordless models that let you wander the house or step into the yard during your conversation.

As a new driver, you had paper maps or street atlases to find your way.  If you needed to buy something, you went to the mall.  We worried about getting good grades, getting into a good college, and not getting a pimple before a big dance––not necessarily in that order.

Many parents had jobs in the trades, but saw college as the path to a good life for their kids.  Girls dated boys and vice versa.  AIDS was a big deal, but far removed from our everyday life.  It seemed like something that only happened to other people who lived in big cities, not anyone we knew.  Being good to the environment meant recycling, but it wasn’t an option in every community.

Today’s technology gives young people so many more advantages. Not only are there a multitude of channels via cable or satellite, there’s streaming options that bring your movies to you at the click of a button.  Home computers, iPads, and other devices are pretty standard, and even the youngest of family members have cell phones.  But phones are for texting, entertainment and pretty much everything –– but not talking! Phones provide turn-by-turn directions; they also provide the temptation for distracted driving.

Shopping happens anywhere there’s Wi-Fi.  Social media created things like fear of missing out (FOMO), an obsession with earning ‘likes’ and followers, and cyberbullying.  Kids still worry about good grades, but they’re now taking college courses in high school, and can start college as a sophomore or freshman, thanks to the credits they earn.  Trade school is en vogue again, and vocational school enrollment is on the rise.  Now, kids can decide which gender they identify with, and in addition to M and F, there are many more letters and a great deal of confusion.  Addiction is the top disease, and it touches more lives in more communities than AIDS did.  Kids and their families are rallying around all manners of environmental causes today, from endangered creatures, to reducing carbon footprints or aiming for zero waste.

Times may change, but family dynamics stay the same.  Older generations think the young ones have it easy, and the young ones think the old are stuck in the past. Who knows, maybe technology can help us bridge that divide.  We’ll give Grandma a Facetime call on her new iPhone and let you know how it goes.

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