Stuff Us 90s Kids Did in School that Today’s Youth Would Never Understand


“What does that mean?” my 7-year-old asked me the other day when I told her to hang up the phone. “I mean, hang it up!” I said with exasperation as she is calling a number I purposely ignored earlier. “You mean disconnect?” she asks with innocence. Oh, yeah; disconnect. My kids don’t know what hanging up means, even though it’s totally common sense to me. I used to hang up a phone. As I, in removed it from my ear and put it down on a cradle. I’d slam the phone down if I was mad at my parents when I was on the phone with them. If my kids slam the phone, they’re breaking the faceplate and I’m spending $700 on a new iPhone. Their childhood is so not even remotely close to my childhood in terms of how we were raised.

I was born in 1983, which means I grew up in the 90s. I’m a 90s kid all the way since I spent most of my most formative years in this time frame. I know what things like NKOTB means. I know what it’s like to manually roll up a window in a car. And I for sure know what it means to listen to the “Eeeeeeooooooooooooo osksjglaydoruakjddkdt,” sound that the computer made when dialing up to the internet (maybe it doesn’t sound like it reads here, but you know what I mean). When I was growing up, we didn’t have to worry about all the things that kids worry about now, especially in school. In fact, I think my school days are probably far superior to my kids’, if only because I was in school in the 90s. I got to do things my kids would never understand.

And I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I think our childhood in the 90s was much better than our kids today.

Use the Encyclopedia

When I was growing up, we didn’t have Google. We had to use encyclopedias. For everything. It was the worst form of torture and it kind of makes me want to punch kids right in the face when they complain about researching a paper. On that note, they get to type their paper. That wasn’t a luxury for all of us. We had to write them – with our hands.

Senior Prank

So it was 2002 for me, but you get the drift. Flip phones were just being introduced, smart phones were light years away and no one had a camera on their phone. That would be why, when we entered the library Nazi’s library in school thanks to stealing keys from a friend’s parent who was a teacher, and we turned all the books backward, flipped the tables upside down and lined the halls with the chairs – as well as hung up a giant pink hall pass that said “To the Library Nazi’s office” on the wall (can you tell we did not care much for the librarian?) and we were all called into the office to rat on one another the following Monday, no one got in trouble. Why? Because there was no proof. No selfies. No videos. No pictures. Good luck today’s senior class. That will be all over Instagram before you can even say “Cheese.”

Talking to Parents on the Phone

There’s a pretty good chance my kids will never talk to a parent or have to say something like, “May I speak to so and so,” on the phone. When I was growing up, we had to call someone’s house phone. And we had to ask to speak to them when their mom answered the phone. Awkward.

Answering a Page

What? My kids will never know that a beeper is anything other than the things that doctors wear when they are being paged into an emergency situation. I remember them as what we had long before cell phones. 911 143. If you were a 90s kid, you get it.

We Walked to our Friend’s Houses or School

I remember living in California and walking to school, a little less than a mile. I had to cross a major intersection. I was 14 and I dragged my 11-year-old brother with me every single day and left him at his school on the way to mine. I won’t let my kids walk to the end of the driveway to check the mail. You know, because now they could get hit by a car or taken by a kidnapper – as opposed to the nonexistence of those issues when I was growing up.

Prank Calls

Be honest, how many times did you prank someone when you were growing up? It was so easy when there wasn’t any caller ID or cell phones when people could call you right back! Our kids are never going to know the hilarious pleasure of calling someone and asking, “Is your refrigerator running? Well, you better go catch it,” before hanging up in a fit of giggles knowing they’d never get caught.

Getting Offline to use the Phone

Oh yeah, remember that? You had to get off the internet on that big giant box-like thing that resembled your kitchen appliances so that someone else could use the phone since they were one in the same. Now our phone is our internet, too, but in a much cooler way.

Reading Books with Pages

Remember what it was like to read a book that had real paper pages? We don’t do that anymore now that we have eReaders and everything else electronic.

Buying CDs

Oh my goodness; we used to have to have actual discs with music. And we had those in our cars, but only if we were cool enough to have a new car and not an older one with a tape player. (Tape player? What’s that? Where did you insert your USB to listen to your music in the car, mom?)

Memorizing Phone Numbers

When my kids are old enough to have cell phones, they will never be able to contact us if they lose them. I say this with absolute certainty since I know this is true. I know that I have not memorized a phone number since I was in high school. I only know mine because I give it to people on occasion. But even though my husband and I have been together 14 years and he’s had the same number most of those, I don’t know it without looking at my phone.


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply