15 Things That Younger Generations Will Never Understand

My kids will never understand things like dialing a phone, film cameras, movies ONLY in movie theaters, and bankers' hours.

Kids Today Will Never Understand These Old School Experiences

Based on the number of articles I’ve read online about “things today’s generation will never understand”, it’s a popular way for us older folk to reminisce about the past and compare our childhood experiences with those of younger generations.

This topic has been on my mind since seeing this fairly recent YouTube video where a father challenges his 17-year-old son and a friend to figure out how to successfully dial an old school rotary phone. Not only did that video leave me in stitches, it also reinforced just how different my teenage years were compared to those kids!

So I thought I’d share my own list of things we experienced back in the day that our kids (or grandkids) can’t fathom, either because things are done differently now or because they involve items that are now obsolete. It ended up being a fun walk down memory lane, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

15 Things That Younger Generations Will Never Understand

With the way technology and science have advanced during my life to this point, my mind boggles to think what I will see before I reach the end of it!

Kids today will never understand…

My kids will never understand the angst of taking a photo then having to wait to get it - no filters, no retakes.

…waiting for photos to get developed (to say nothing of having to pay for them) and then having to be content with how they turned out — no do-overs, touch-ups, or filters!

…making and taking calls on the ONE house phone with zero privacy, nor the panic of not knowing who was calling and trying to convince whoever picked up the phone to tell that person you weren’t home.

The younger generation will never understand the feeling of only being able to see a movie in the theater.

…the ephemeral nature of movies. After you saw a movie in the theater, that was it — you didn’t have a VHS, DVD, or streaming release to look forward to down the road. (That made it really a big deal when a movie finally started airing on network TV!)

…not being able to talk on the phone and be online at the same time, nor the ear-splitting noise that the modem always made when connecting to the internet.

The younger generation will never know what it was like to have to use the stove or oven to make a meal or heat up leftovers -- no microwaves!

…how long it took to heat up leftovers in the oven or on the stove because microwaves and toaster ovens didn’t exist.

…how much trust was involved in making plans. When someone said they’d meet you at 3:30 in front of food court at the mall, all you could do was show up at 3:30 and hope they’d show up too!

My kids will never understand the shock of an alarm clock going off and not having the option to push snooze.

…manually changing the time on every electronic device in the house during Daylight Saving Time or when the power went out, because none of the clocks changed automatically.

…rolling up car windows with a handle instead of a button; unlocking cars with a key instead of a fob; and navigating with paper maps instead of GPS. (My family had a Thomas Guide under the front seat, but we still pulled into a lot of service stations to ask for directions.)

Most of the younger generation will never know the pleasure of carrying on a pen pal relationship via actual mailed letters.

…(or at least not very many will understand) the simple joy of carrying on a correspondence through real handwritten letters sent and received by mail.

…how it feels to not be able to look something up or verify information on the spot.

My kids will never understand having to wait to do your banking until the physical bank was open, and not being able to shop unless the stores were open.

…having to plan their banking around the hours that your bank branch was open, nor only being able to shop during business hours Monday through Saturday.

….the mystery of not knowing exactly what their friends are doing or saying or thinking at any given moment.

The biggest thing my kids will never understand is not having portable phones -- having the phone tied to the wall and not knowing who was calling until you picked it up and said hello.

…calling “time and temperature” on the phone to get the day’s forecast. (I still remember calling 853-1212 in southern California, and that some girls would give that number out to guys they didn’t like.)

…looking up movie showtimes in the newspaper or calling the theater and listening to a long list of movies and showtimes until the movie you wanted to see was announced in the rotation.

The younger generation will never understand just how boring it was to sit on the toilet in the pre-technology days!

And last, but certainly not least, kids will never understand just how boring it used to be to sit on the toilet.

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I agree about not having the time and temperature numbers anywhere. Rotary dials on phones. The one about party lines – my mom when I was born in the 60s trying to make an emergency call she was in labor with me and trying to make whoever was speaking Spanish understood it was an emergency. Also the 4-5 digit telephone numbers my folks occasionally talk about that when they grew up.

  • Haha. We had a party line telephone. We also had names instead of area codes – our phone number (yeah I still remember) was Metcalf 3 0610.

  • Doing engineering drawings manually, including doing all the appropriate calculations on an old style calculator or slide rule instead of using CAD.
    The more experienced of us draftsmen & women didn’t just do drawings, they were works of art with a style all of their own.

  • 1968 small town in California, we only had to dial on the rotary phone the last five digits of a phone number, not the full seven numbers when making local calls.

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