You can read until you’re blue in the face about generations past when moms drank while pregnant, kids rode around without car seats, cruised bikes helmet-less, and stayed out passed dark drinking soda mixed with Pop Rocks and eating Ring Dings for sustenance.
They all turned out fine, right?
But just because kids were parented perhaps a bit more freely a few decades ago, doesn’t mean today’s kids would fare as well when faced with the same set of circumstances. The fact is, there’s no such thing as the same set of circumstances; the starting line of yore has been erased and the new one is infinitely more complicated and nuanced. Kids can probably still stay out later these days because they’re more likely to have some kind of smart device connecting them with their parents, but that same device might also make them more susceptible to danger far more sinister than a round of “Ghost in the Graveyard.”
That being said though, there are a lot of things our parents were lucky they didn’t have to worry about.
1. This app that helps kids hide photos from their parents.
There are plenty of arguments for and against giving children of a certain age smartphones. Too much screen time stifles their imagination, inhibits their brain development, and they younger they are, the more likely they are to accidentally provide personal information to strangers. Still, plenty of parents choose to allow their kids to go online and just keep close tabs on how they use it. But now, there’s an app that lets kids keep photos hidden from their parents via a secret photo app.
For example, the app, “Calculator%” looks like a basic tool, but it allow kids to … WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TAKING PICTURES OF BECAUSE THEY’RE HIDING THEM. WHAT ARE THEY HIDING? WHAT DON’T THEY WANT US TO SEE? ARGH! Which means not only are the kids probably doing inappropriate things online, but they’re doing it intentionally and sneakily. Awesome.
2. The Kardashians.
Take one absurdly high-profile family with ridiculous amounts of cash at their disposal, stir in several Instagram accounts, mix in some underage girls with older boyfriends, add a little plastic surgery, and you might just make a generation of girls who feel as if all of that before the age of 18 is perfectly normal.
3. Planking in ill-advised locations.
Planking is a form of exercise that helps strengthen the body’s core. But in recent times, extreme planking has become a thing in which kids do this on precarious places including rooftops, moving cars, and escalators. Not all end in disaster, but not all end safely, either.
4. Vodka in eyes, gummy bears, and tampons.
Wasn’t it bad enough when Generation X discovered their parents’ liquor cabinets? Now we need to worry about kids pouring vodka IN THEIR EYES, infusing it in their GUMMY BEARS, or — brace yourself for this one — soaking tampons in vodka and inserting them? And you still let your kids leave the house? In cars? Ever?
5. E-cigarettes that let them smoke on the sly.
It used to be that when teens smoked, their parents could smell the cigarettes on them (or at least suspect that a mouth full of mints and a body reeking of perfume were less to do with bad breath and body odor and more about a half-empty pack of Camel Lights). Then came e-cigarettes, where there’s no smell, but the negative health effects are just as bad. NPR reports e-cigarette use among teens has tripled, now surpassing those who smoke regular cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is still detrimental to developing brains (not to mention all their other body parts), but now with e-cigarettes, it’s that much harder for parents to know that it’s happening.
6. The Cinnamon Challenge.
Remember when cinnamon was just the thing you sprinkled onto snickerdoodles? Well not long ago, kids started daring each other to swallow a tablespoonful of cinnamon in a minute or under — and the results were sometimes disastrous to the lungs. That’s right, the spice best known for accompanying sugar, spice, and everything nice actually sent people to the hospital because, according to Forbes, “the combination of cinnamon’s caustic chemical and undigestible cellulose matrix makes the practice particularly damaging to the lungs.” Awesome.
7. YouTube, where they can become famous for doing stupid things.
For every sweet video of a baby giggling on YouTube, there’s some kind of trend or challenge that kids will videotape in the hopes of making friends, influencing people, and maybe becoming famous. Snorting condoms? Fire challenge? Salt and ice? Hot peppers? Hurting yourself and then challenging others to do it to themselves has never been cooler.
8. Texting and driving.
While drinking and driving is still a very serious worry, now we have to worry about the near-constant danger of texting and driving. So while you can do your best to make sure they don’t have any semblance of a social life, if they have a phone (or a friend with a phone) and a car … they can be killed just by virtue of hearing the sound of an incoming text. Awesome.