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Tech & Media

The ‘90s Are Having a Moment, and My Kids are All About It

May 3, 2017

The Full House episode where Stephanie drives a convertible into the Tanner family kitchen is on for the umpteenth time, my eight-year-old daughter is pacing the hall with a phone glued to her ear and my ten-year-old son is playing Super Mario on the computer.

I didn't know how my kids' childhood would look, but I certainly didn't expect it to be exactly like my own. Everyone talks about how the mobile internet is creating some sort of brave new world that is changing the face of childhood and adolescence. This is clearly not the case in my house — at least not yet.

The funny part is that my kids are living in an '80s and '90s media-driven world of their own making. Trust me, I would not willingly subject myself to more Kimmy Gibbler than my younger siblings already put me through. But thanks to Netflix, shows like Full House are more popular than ever. My kids are also into such classics as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the animated Spider-Man, as well as modern remakes of Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo.


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And when they're not watching TV, they're playing computer games. No! Doing homework! Yes, when they're not watching TV they should be doing homework, reading books, helping out around the house and engaging in healthy, active outdoor play. But sometimes they play games on the computer, and the two games they can't get enough of right now are Super Mario and Family Feud. I know! It's like we fell into some sort of time warp. And, again, they sourced these games online all by themselves. My only clue was the telltale Super Mario music that triggered a Pavlovian craving for mushrooms and gold coins.

It's like we fell into some sort of time warp. My only clue was the telltale Super Mario music that triggered a Pavlovian craving for mushrooms and gold coins.

The final nail in this time-machine coffin is the phone. Because we all know the one thing that children absolutely don't do anymore is talk on the phone. But my eight-year-old daughter is glued to our landline, talking to any one of four friends who have all shared phone numbers and, apparently, an undying love of the word "ohmigosh." This time I do admit to providing the slightest nudge. When my eight-year-old was pestering me for her own cell phone (yeah, right), I suggested she pick up the landline we keep for telemarketers and robocalls and use it to call her friend. But I had no idea how much she'd embrace the idea.

I must admit that I find this all reassuring. It means that no matter how much technology has changed, a child's love of cheesy family sitcoms and side-scrolling video games remains constant. It also shows me that we don't actually need to finance iPhones for our tweens to stay connected. They can get sweaty ears and neck cramps just like we did.


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Of course not everything my kids do is ripped from the pages of my old Trapper Keeper. I definitely never sat around watching YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft. (Although I did watch endless reruns of Saved By The Bell, so I can't brag.) But I'm still not worried. Whatever communication platform kids are getting into trouble on right now will already be something else by the time my children are teens.

I'm not a huge technology proponent but neither am I opposed to it. In fact, I think we credit technology with more power than it deserves.

I mostly think we should all chill out. I'm not a huge technology proponent but neither am I opposed to it. In fact, I think we credit technology with more power than it deserves. Raising kids is definitely scary at times. But the things that worry me are teen insecurities, social pressure, bad influences, dangerous drugs, reckless sex, bullying and all the same things parents have been worried about for decades — Instagram and Snapchat or not.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to start petitioning Netflix to bring back Family Ties. There's a show I'd love to watch again.

Article Author Rebecca Cuneo Keenan
Rebecca Cuneo Keenan

Rebecca Cuneo Keenan lives in Toronto with her husband and three school-aged children. She writes about parenting and culture for a variety of digital and print publications, and she even still blogs every now and again at Playground Confidential. Twitter for zingers: @rebeccakeenan. Instagram for food and travel envy: @playgroundconfidential.

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