Now & Then: 5 Fascinating Differences Between Today’s Kids and the Teens of the 70s

Back in the 1970s, it was impossible to find the best online tutoring service or eCommerce store because nothing was online – the internet didn’t exist! Of course, this lack of internet was far from the only thing that made life in the ‘70s different from what it is today. Let’s take a look at five other differences.

1. Parenting styles

In the 70s, parents had a hands-off approach. They weren’t concerned with knowing exactly where you were at every moment of the day. Instead, they were content with a basic outline and a promise to be home by dinner. The same laid-back approach applied to school.

Nowadays, however, parents take a much more hands-on approach. For example, they stay in touch with their kids through daily texts and understand how well they’re doing in school through regular email updates. Although this may seem overbearing at times, it can also help keep kids stay out of danger and focused on school.

2. Seat belt safety

Although seatbelt designs were patented in the mid-1950s, they weren’t adopted immediately. Most drivers and passengers thought they were restrictive, uncomfortable, and unnecessary. As a result, only 11% or so of Americans wore them by the end of the 1970s.


As the decades rolled on, however, state laws and social acceptance made seat belts more normalized. Nowadays, they’re so common (and mandatory) that newer cars have a loud beeping noise to remind you to buckle up before driving off. As a result, kids take their presence for granted, and car safety has improved.

3. TV

Most teens in the 1970s grew up watching TV. However, they didn’t grow up watching whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Instead, they had to stick to the schedule assigned by the show. If they missed last night’s Brady Bunch, they were out of luck until the network played it again.

Streaming services such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and others have changed the game. Although some shows still adhere to a weekly schedule, once all the episodes are out, you can re-watch and binge-watch as much as you’d like. That concept was unheard of back in the 70s.

4. Phones

Phones were around in the 1970s, but they were different. Usually, a ”phone” meant a housebound phone on a cord in the kitchen. So if you wanted to gossip with friends or whisper to a new crush, you had to do so with your mom, dad, and siblings watching TV nearby.

That situation is unthinkable nowadays as most teens (and even preteens) have smartphones. Furthermore, texting makes it far easier to keep in touch with friends (or a new crush), even if you’re watching TV with the family.

5. Sunscreen

In the 1970s, summer vacation meant going to the beach. However, it didn’t mean using sunscreen while you were there. It wasn’t until 1978 that the FDA even recommended people use the stuff! If beachgoers did pay attention, the sunscreens in the 70s had a very low SPF and were usually mixed in with tanning oils.

Nowadays, beachgoers of all ages apply and reapply sunscreen whenever they’re in the sun. Unlike the weak SPFs of decades before, today’s sunscreen usually provides at least 30 SPF, with some going up to 100.

Sunscreen, seatbelts, and cell phones are only a few of the factors that make life far different today than it was in the ‘70s. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you to decide.

Jeff Campbell