Yesterday I was just putting my 7 year old son to sleep; he asked me to tell him about my childhood.  I told him that when I was growing up in Russia we did not have VCRs and so on.  He asked me: "Pa what is VCR?".  I was shocked.  I did not realize that his generation will not know what a VCR is.

Steve Leslie reminisces:

Here is the technology that I had in my home when I was seven years old in a middle class neighborhood in Ohio: One black and white TV with rabbit ears, three networks and a local TV channel that signed off no later than 2am. A record player (mono). Two telephones and one line (my cousins had a community line where you could hear other people's conversations. A few radios — AM dominated the airways (CKlW was out of Detroit). I think I did have a combination clock radio in my bedroom. That was pretty much it. A typical day: We got home from school around 3pm. We usually walked home, most likely a mile or two. Watched American Bandstand and the Merv Griffin show. A few years later an episode or two of Dark Shadows. Did our homework, ate our family supper, went outside to play until dark then came in cleaned up for bed. Fell asleep listening to the Cleveland Indians ballgame. On Saturday, if we were lucky we could go to the movies for a Saturday matinee. We brought our own popcorn and candy. I never thought then or believe now that I ever lacked in anything of value in my childhood.

Leon Mayeri writes:

We cancelled our cable TV subscription several years ago when our youngest son was born. We have a 13 year old who enjoys watching occasional PBS documentaries with our rabbit ears analog TV. Our six year old selectively watches sports on what amounts to only three local stations, but we also actively encourage reading in our household. There’s an alternative to the plethora of mindless commercial shows: you can rent the occasional DVD for the whole family to watch, or watch something fascinating on PBS together.

Our teenager has, predictably, become fascinated with other screens: first it was game-boy, then iPod, then a MacBook laptop. and now he has hit the grand slam with his state of the art Samsung phone. His Bar Mitzvah brought great fortune and instant distraction.

Simply stated, the best plan of attack with all this heightened technology is to have active discussions about science, technology, and worldly events with your children at the dinner table, and make frequent visits to your local library. Amazon and Barnes are most helpful as well. As long as they learn to read, they have a chance to succeed.

Jeff Watson remarks:

Having converted my entire music to digital format by the mid 90s, my large collection of LP’s has sat boxed up in a closet unused for years. My turntable died in the early 90s. Last year, my son discovered the LPs, bought a turntable on eBay, and has been playing LPs whenever he is home. He considers it retro, therefore “cool.” Those pops, clicks, and hiss from the vinyl bring back a wave of nostalgia every time I hear one played. One thing I really miss is the “album art, which was a valid art form in it’s own. Albums covers and liners in the 70s from bands such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and the Stones provided some of the best examples. Unfortunately, album art just doesn't translate very well to a CD cover.


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