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I’m Glad Social Media Didn’t Exist in the 80’s

I keep a pocketful of sympathy at the ready for my teen daughters. Being a teen in the 80’s (greatest decade) meant I didn’t have to deal with social media like teens have to now.   They go through so much more pressure because of what they see online. Because social media plays such an important part of their lives it would be hard to put into context how much it affects their mental health and decision making. I’m glad social media didn’t exist in the 80’s.

Social Media Apps

Social Media Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, Tumblr, and so many more affect everyone in significant ways.  Clearly there are benefits to social media, but for teenagers I feel like the negative outweighs the positives.  
Thankfully, I  didn’t have to grow up with social media. I know there are benefits to having it, but for teens it can be rough.  Let’s make a PRO/CON list and compare.

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The PROS of growing up in the 80’s with no social media:

  • MTV was our media of choice and we got 24 hours a day of the best music videos. It wasn’t YouTube where we could pick. I couldn’t choose which videos so if I had to sit it through a Flock of Seagulls video in order to get to U2 or The Police, it was worth it. (No offense to FOS fans …just wasn’t my vibe). My friends and I spent hours in front of the tv watching videos. The 5 Veejays (Quinn, Goodman, Blackwood, Jackson and Hunter) were the OG’s of the 80’s.
  • No filters, photoshop, and thong bikinis to warp our view of physical perfection. I mean people looked like they looked. Most pics of me from the 80’s include red eyes and way too dark a tan (what was I thinking?)
  • Snapchat didn’t exist. No making comments on social media that disappear with no record of it. People have become so used to making terrible judgmental statements on this app that then disappear with no record of it and little consequence for their bad actions.
  • No texts, emails, Snapchats, Tweets and whatever else is happening these days. We had to use the phone and communicate. Kids can barely answer a phone these days with a confident voice and maintain a conversation. It’s hard to watch. I need to train my children how to do this because I fear for their professional lives later when they can’t communicate well.
  • We had far less FOMO. If we couldn’t see what everyone else was doing on social media, we didn’t have a Fear Of Missing Out. Having to watch other kids having fun without you is really rough on kids. It’s a necessary lesson that everyone needs which is “not everyone gets invited to everything” but Lord is it hard to watch if your child is reeling from it. There are plenty of times we tell kids to please not post that you’re together so that kids that weren’t invited don’t feel bad. We can’t always have 10 kids over. This is a hard one to manage as a parent.
  • Less creepy unsavory behavior by people trying to communicate with kids online. My parents weren’t worried about me falling into a chat room or discussion with people over inappropriate topics or with middle aged men posing as teens. Yikes.
  • Parents had no idea what we were up to unless someone told on us. Ok, this really is a benefit for those of us who were in high school and college in the 80’s. Certainly wasn’t a benefit for our parents. Life 360 App is amazing and allows me to track where my kids go.
Back in the day, I just had to be home by curfew. Up til then, who knew what I was up to….. ahh the good ‘ol days.

CONS of growing up in the 80’s with no social media:

  • We weren’t as socially aware. Our view of the world seemed more narrow.  Unless you sat in front of the tv for the 6 o’clock news or 60 Minutes on Sunday, you had no idea what was going on in the world. It’s not like I picked up my Dad’s newspaper and read it. But I did have Seventeen Magazine. Not the news I’m talking about.
  • Our cultural references came from Mtv. It was the original influencer. Music videos were our only window to what was happening in the world.
  • We saw much less diversity in our media and the strength that comes from it. There was very little racial diversity on tv and lots of stereotypes. I do remember wanting to grow up to be Mary Tyler Moore with my own apartment and job and be her throwing my hat into the air like I just didn’t care. That show was an influence on me in a big way.
  • So much less specialization in college choices. Back in the day, it seems like kids chose from a handful of basic college majors. Now that I am helping my daughter navigate the college application nightmare, sorry, process, I am astounded at the unending options that exist for major and minor choices. And geez, wouldn’t virtual college tours and online information have been handy in researching colleges instead of solely relying on the packet of info you requested in the mail. Now with social media, my daughter can watch college freshman take them on a tour of their new dorm rooms and get their feedback on how the process has gone.

The Balance

I guess I can admit that there are some benefits to social media and that when respected and monitored can be a good tool for kids. It is certainly important that parents monitor it and provide guidance when they can. My kids and I talk about it and the messages they’re seeing about the world. I follow their accounts (I don’t comment on their posts because that’s like death to them.) Ocasionally, I’ve had to step in and tell them to unfollow certain people if I don’t approve of the content, but for the most part, I allow them to participate.  

It’s the necessary evil of being a teenager I guess. A fine line between being social and being wrecked from it

Like everything with raising kids, we take it day-by-day. I  know they’re tired of hearing me sing the praises of my teenage years without social media.  They consider the time before social media as the Dark Ages in history.  


How does social media affect your household?  Would you have rather grown up with social media? Let us know in the comments.

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