“When I was your age…”

photo by: Jeff Keyser

When I was a kid, screen and phone time existed, and kids and parents had conflicts over them. We played games, got our entertainment, gossiped with friends, and relied on technology and devices to do it. So how different was it?

Back then I met friends at the video game arcade down on Durant in Berkeley. For a home movie night, we could meet up at the local video rental store and browse the choices together. Parents would run into other parents and get movie recommendations from the people they knew. At home, only one person could be on the phone at a time. Some families had a favorite T.V. show that aired once a week on one of the four tv networks, and the whole family would gather at that same night every week to be together to watch it. To do research for a school project, I would go to the local library.

So how has the technology evolution altered the way we connect and have fun?

At my house today we can each watch our own YouTube video, indie film or Hollywood blockbuster on our own personal screen whenever we feel like it. My daughter can FaceTime with my Screenager producer’s daughter to catch up long-distance. We moved from Seattle all the way to NY and everyone in my family can have conversations with anyone “back home” easily. Research for school or work can happen regardless of library hours.

  • Teens can remember life before personal devices too. How did you talk and play offline before?
  • What is different about playing video games at the local arcade than on our home machines or personal devices?
  • How do you scan and select your entertainment options now? Do you watch more with friends and family or by yourself?
  • What’s better or worse about having more big and small screen viewing choices than before?
  • Do smart phones keep you more connected or more isolated?