Remember thinking the technology that debuted during your childhood was totally tubular? Little did we know how obsolete these ‘advancements’ would be just a generation later! Our kids will never know what it was like to sit for hours by the boombox waiting to record a favorite song off the radio, or what it’s like to play a video game you could barely see on a tiny screen. We paved the way for this generation’s effortless foray into literally having the world at their fingertips and virtual assistants at their beck and call. Read on for five old school tech items that your kids will never understand.

photo: Wikipedia

Then: Game Boy

When the handheld, portable Game Boy of our youth debuted, our minds were blown. “We can play Nintendo games in the car!?” But sadly, where our kids are concerned, this device is now the antiquated equivalent of using a chisel to write on a stone tablet. Game Boy’s gray and green graphics pale in comparison to today’s video game technology. Its screen resolution was a measly 160×144 pixels and we could barely decipher what was taking place on the screen! But, we didn’t care—this device rocked!

photo: Pixabay

Now: Nintendo Switch

Boasting jaw-dropping graphics and an LCD screen that supports resolutions up to 1280×720 pixels, we couldn’t have even imagined the Nintendo Switch in our wildest childhood dreams. Kids today get to tote this epic game system on-the-go or connect it to the TV at home. The games are so well-designed, creative, colorful and immersive that we can’t help but indulge in playing it ourselves once in awhile!

photo: ebay

Then: Speak & Spell

Oh how we loved our Speak & Spell! The device’s robotic voice taught us so very much about how to spell and pronounce words, while making it feel futuristic and fun. Cut to current day and your kids can just ask Alexa how to spell a word––but we loved rolling the dice on our skills by typing in our best guess. Every time we spelled a word and heard the response “that is correct,” it was a small victory.

photo: Amazon

Now: Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet

Today your kids can simply click on an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet to discover over 15,000 books, movies, educational apps, games and TV shows. Kids can use this tablet for web browsing for schoolwork and for entertainment both on the go and at home. The ABCs and spelling are just the beginning! The Amazon Kids Edition tablet comes with a free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. We know that spells A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

photo: imdb

Then: Boombox

The boombox equaled freedom to listen to music anywhere from roller skating in the front yard to lounging at the beach. It became our mission to buy as many cassette tapes as possible to rotate the playlist like the DJs we were born to be. But no one was cooler than Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, when he literally elevated the boombox over his head and to iconic heights to declare his love by blaring “In Your Eyes” beneath the bedroom window of his high school crush Diane Court. It totally rocked.

photo: rawpixel

Now: Wireless Headphones & Music Streaming

Our kids will likely never lay eyes on an 8-track tape, cassette tape or possibly even a DVD unless they’re rummaging through storage boxes in the garage. Now, they have invisible music that downloads directly to their devices without the trip to the music store. They can also wear wireless headphones to move about freely without lugging a stereo system perched on their shoulder. But don’t tell them we still got the better end of the deal because they may never experience the romance of making or receiving a mix tape. Playlists just aren’t the same.

photo: Mike Mozart via Flickr

Then: Pay phones

Remember having to find a pay phone so you could call your mom to pick you up from the mall? You always had to have a few quarters or make change for a dollar, or call collect if you spent all your dough on pizza at the food court. If the convo went on too long, a real live operator would instruct you to insert more coins (which you didn’t have). We like to think that our perseverance and time management skills came in part from our many trips to the pay phone back in the day.

photo: Den1979 from Pixabay

Now: Smart Watches 

We wouldn’t have believed you back then if you told us one day we’d be able to make like James Bond and call someone from our wrist watch. Kids today can simply press a button on their smart watch to make a phone call, no spare change required. Would our kids even know how to operate a payphone?

photo: YouTube

Then: Tomy Omnibot Robot

When the clunky Tomy Omnibot debuted in 1984, the future had arrived. Every kid wanted to channel The Jetsons cartoon and have their very own robot helper that could deliver food and drinks on a tray, albeit very slowly. This “fully programmable robot with a memory” could “talk” via you speaking into a microphone––meaning Omnibot’s capabilities were bestowed by its owner, making him a really pricy yet inherently powerless piece of plastic.


Now: Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime

Today kids can’t live without the sleek, streamlined and seemingly omniscient robot (ahem, “virtual assistant”) with the household name: Alexa. Alexa has an astonishing 50,000 + skills and kids can ask her everything from what the weather’s like to how to solve their math homework or help with fact-finding when writing a history essay (we used to have to get a ride to the library). Alexa can also turn the lights on/off, play music, play games and call grandma. Our kids really have no idea how lucky they are to have access to this kind of information and convenience!

When you purchase a new Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet it comes with one year of FreeTime Unlimited at no additional cost. FreeTime Unlimited offers thousands of content titles for children ages three to twelve years old.

—Beth Shea




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