Lost in the Decade of Neon: Hilarious Things 80s Kids Did That Baffle Us Today

By Krystal Brown

Time has moved on quite a bit since the 80’s and this includes safety measures which have left parents being overprotective, and older parents wondering why.  The 80’s will look like a complete foreign time for the children born in these times, and it’s with no surprise. There are many things that 80’s kids did that millennials just don’t do anymore, or can’t. 

Select Their Own Valentine 

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It’s common for children to send a Valentines card to everyone in their class, or nobody at all, these days. Nobody wants to leave anyone out, but back in the 80’s you could choose who you wanted to give a card to, whether it was one person, or seven. It always seemed to be a competition about who could get the most cards, and also who received none. 

Ride in the Very Back of the Car 

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Car safety was at a completely different level back in the 80’s, and by this, it means that there literally was none. If you had guests getting ready to get in the car, it was normal for the adults to sit in the seats whilst the kids bounced around in the very back of the car… and yes, by this, we mean the very back, with no seats. 

The Use of a Payphone

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These have now been turned into defibrillators in many places, but there was once a time when you would have to pay to use a phone… outside! There were no mobile phones and you couldn’t carry around the landline. There are still some usable pay phones around but the likelihood of a child these days using one is very slim. 

Bike Anywhere

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As an 80’s kid, getting your first bike was something only dreams were made of. It meant that there was more freedom for you than ever before. You could go wherever you wanted to, and that’s exactly what happened. Children went really far from home on their bikes, which is something that just doesn’t happen anymore with the paranoia of today’s society and stranger danger. 

Peanut Butter in the Lunch Box

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Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were all the craze back in the day, and every kid would have one in their lunchbox. This can’t happen in some schools now because of the allergy risk that nuts pose. 

Play Outside With No Supervision 

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Moms would only poke their head at the window or door once in a while when their children were out playing, but this isn’t the case anymore. There seems to be no safe place for children to play, and moms are super paranoid about kidnapping etc. Streets used to be great fun for children to run up and down, but now it’s just too risky. 

Saturday Morning Cartoons 

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Kids found Saturday mornings sacred because waking up early and sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal to watch non-stop cartoons until lunchtime was the dream after a long week at school. The 80’s had the best cartoons ever, including Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Climbing Risky Playground Equipment 

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Children in the 80’s would find excitement in the most risky playground equipment. Who cares about a broken arm or leg? Not the 80s kids. Whether it was swinging, sliding or hanging upside down, nothing was a bother, including the concrete floor beneath them.

Neon Clothes in Public 

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Neon was all the craze in the 80’s and children could walk around in the brightest clothes without the fear of judgement. However, if a child did this these days, they would probably get teased. It’s very neutral in these times which is a world away from what it was like. 

Going to the Library

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Unfortunately, libraries are very rarely used now. However, in the 80’s, children were always visiting the library and they would use a “card catalog” in order to find the books they wanted. The “card catalog” was a wooden cabinet full of drawers that carried small cards. Children would go through the card until they found the book they wanted using the Dewey Decimal System. If you ever visit a library now, there are usually computers that you can use to find the book. 

Sugary Cereals 

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There was nothing better than having a super sugary cereal with your Saturday morning cartoons. There were so many to choose from in the 80s and they all had so much sugar in them. Parents didn’t care much for sugar content back then, but today, cereals are a lot more focused on vitamins and fibres. 

Discovery of Computers

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Most children were lucky to have a computer in their house in the 80’s. Even if they did have one, there was little idea on how to use the DOS-based operating system. Over time, the discovery was wonderful and exciting. Computers are everywhere today and there are usually multiple laptops in one household. 

Pull the Ends Off Dot Matrix Paper

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Before printers, there was a noisy machine known as a dot matrix printer. The dot matrix paper had little holes punched at the ends which would interlock in the printer and ultimately guide it through. Once you had nice printed paper, kids would have the pleasure of tearing each end off. 

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