10 Differences Between A Child Who Grew Up In The 70s Compared To Today
As a child who grew up in the seventies, I'm flabbergasted at the degree of generational differences in health, medicine, food, safety, and general well-being of children. Don't get me wrong, I love technology and all the advancements we've made in several areas, but at the same time when you break it down to the simplest ways of managing human lives, we've taken one step forward and three steps back. The level of fear we currently exhibit as parents and as a society towards children is at an unprecedented level. When comparing the two time periods, an element of certainty exists where we have now immersed our most precious assets into an toxic, overly hygienic, medicalized, obsessive compulsive, paranoid, anxious and at the very least, a "cowardice culture" where children are being trained and almost indoctrinated into a world where "the norm" is to fear everything and everyone.
1. Our Entertainment Was Each Other
We had no internet, cell phones, computers or video games. Not only were our lives free of close proximity electronic devices and their constant electromagnetic radiation, but this allowed us to entertain ourselves through peer interaction and physical activity. You're talking about a dramatic decrease in the level of physical activity from just 40-50 years ago and it's manifesting itself in obesity, insulin resistance, and precursors to diabetes in children as young as ten years old. We didn't have these distractions taking us away from each other's presence, which allowed us to interact, manage and entertain our emotional states with friends. Texting, instagraming and facebooking has turned our children into a generation of mindless drones who can only interact when they're behind a keyboard, earpiece, speaker or headset--anything else is just too scary.
Playing Outside Was Normal, Not Prohibited
Most people who pass by a park today and see 10-year old children playing alone, think "why" as fear strikes a chord. Why are they without their parents? Why are they playing alone without supervision? This was normal and just a way of life in the 70s. We stayed outside until the lights turned off in the summer or heard our parents screaming to come inside. Nobody called the police because a group of kids were playing alone on their street or in the park. When parents had people over, we were expected to go outdoors. We didn't live in nanny state where unsupervised children were seen as having negligent parents. We should all be ashamed of creating a society where children are prohibited from playing outside with their friends after 6pm or chastising parents for allowing them to. And yes, we had child murderers, molesters, kidnappers back then too. We just didn't freak out about the "what ifs" at the expense of our children's freedom and expression of who they are. Now we have them cooped up in front of iPods, iPads, playstation, xbox and any other device that can lock their attention to a screen as long as they're at home and our perception of security is at ease. Some people call that technological progress, but it's nothing more than a safety net to ease our conscience and societal expectations gone adrift.
3. Children Were Not Labeled As ADHD, ADD, or Hyperactive. They Were Just Kids Being Kids
Children today are being medicated at alarming rates for what appears to be normal childhood behavior. Yes, there are some children with legitimate behavioral issues but they are an extreme minority and none of these issues are solved by medication. The big problem is that we're diagnosing and labeling common temper outbursts and other disruptive behavior in millions of children as
attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If you took a subset of 3-year old children from 1970 and transported them to our current timeline, you would see that not much has changed , however the way we deal with them has.
We are putting kids on long-term stimulants as if it was candy. A nationwide CDC survey found that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 have received a diagnosis of ADHD, and about one in five boys. A vast majority are put on medications such as methylphenidate (commonly known as Ritalin) or amphetamines like Adderall which cause growth suppression, insomnia and hallucinations. About half a trillion US dollars is being wasted on unnecessary medication of young children for ADHD, of which almost 100 million is funded by Medicaid. The youngest kindergarten kids are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest in the same grade, and also, by the time those groups reached the fifth and eighth grades, the youngest are more than twice as likely to be on prescription stimulants. We've taken all "hard to control" kids and lumped them into a couple of diagnostic categories of what we perceive as mental illness. That's ridiculous. Let's stop targeting children and start being present with them with new activities, adventure, and change. They need balance with activities that are calming, relaxing, and nurturing. Only then will these children respond to a support system that cares about their development rather than a pill to suppress the symptoms.
4. Total Accessiblity To Children Was Not A Need And Neither Was The Incessant Nature Of Constantly Hovering Over Their Safety
If you took a survery of how many 10-year olds today have cell phones, the results would probably shock most people. More than 60 percent of kids between 11 and 14 own a cell phone. The rise in cell phone use by children mostly stems, at least in part, from the incessant nature of wanting to constantly connect with our children. We want to know where they are at all times. This wasn't a problem in the 70s because there were no cell phones. But cell phones are not really the source of the problem. The problem is the parents who operate those cell phones. Helicopter parents in the 70s were a Mom a Dad who had a license to fly a helicopter. Today they are parents who are so attached to their kids that it's almost impossible to focus on anything else; daily activities, constant conversations and every ounce of effort is reserved for the children. They fall for all the "gimmie" traps. They feel obligated to provide all the cutest clothes and latest gadgets and they're terrified of their child making a mistake. They don't want their children to know what it feels like to reap the consequences of their actions or deal with conflict. They critcize teachers for all the shortcomings within their children's education. They're germaphobes and don't want their children exposed to anything, even the simplest of colds. They harbor a huge amount of guilt and are so overprotective and over-prepared that you can spot their kids a mile away with an overstuffed backpack, knee and elbow pads, a four-course meal along with a miserable expression. These types of parents did not exist forty years ago because our parents gave us more freedom in our decision making processes. They didn't feel they had to cater to our every whim to please us. They knew we loved them regardless of the gift giving or brand named purchases. They let us make our own mistakes no matter how painful it was for them. They allowed us to accept responsibility for our actions and deal with the consequences. Most of all, they were more present for us, playing less of an enabler role and more of a supportive role. 1970s parents could school many of today's helicopter parents in ways that would radically transform the way they think of themselves and their children.
5. It Was OK To Get HurtAnd We Didn't Call Every Person That Hurt Us A Bully
Not only was it ok, but it was expected. Kids get hurt, both physically and emotionally. Get over it. They're kids.
We got bumps, bruises, cuts and were roughed up on a regular basis. Our feelings were hurt and we somehow had the support systems in place to overcome this adversity. We didn't have the need for a closed room meeting with a child, their parents and teacher and possibly litigate because a child was pushed or shoved. We didn't make a big deal about avoiding bullies...we dealt with them We just worked things out.
We think we have a nation of responsible, justice-minded adults when all we are is a bunch of whiners. Anti-bullying programs and campaigns don't work! You will never address a problem by addressing its symptom. We live in a world run by short-sighted, trigger happy, control-obsessed, illogical people who don't understand a thing about human wisdom. Would you like to empower children with the wisdom to be responsible for their own actions based on solid moral principles and empathy, or would you prefer teaching all kids to fit into a behavioral template and abide by certain rules to create a completely safe utopian environment in which everyone is always nice to each other by default, without moral responsibility and the wisdom to know the difference? You can't have both.
6. The Sun Was Our Friend and We Weren't Terrified Of Being Exposed Without Lathering Sunblock
This is perhaps one of the biggest misinformation components of primary school curriculums that needs reform immediately. We were never taught that sun was the enemy. What a coincidence that the more studies that surfaced on the benefits of Vitamin D from sunlight, the more it was demonized in school curriculums. The risk of the sun's rays had nothing to do with the myth about a dangerous ozone. When traveling from either pole to the equator, UV exposure increases up to 5000% whereas ozone depletion only increases UV exposure by 20%. If UVB exposure and ozone depletion were the cause of skin cancer, those populations living closest to the equator would be diagnosed with malignant melanoma at a phenomenal frequency. The opposite is true.
We spent hours out in the sun all day every day. We had less incidence of skin cancer everywhere.
Millions of children are slowly relearning the sunlight is not our enemy. In fact, using sunscreen leads to mental health disorders and critical illness. It's time to set the facts on sunlight exposure straight in schools and once and for all teach kids the growing body of evidence which shows that blocking the sun's rays from reaching our skin dramatically influences our optimal vitamin D levels, leading to higher mortality, critical illness, mental health disorders and ironically, cancer itself.
7. There Were No Constant Promotions For Drugs and Vaccines For Every Human Symptom That Existed
In the 70s we still had significant trust within the medical and pharmaceutical industry. That's probably because we didn't have a drug or vaccine being shoved down our throats for every human symptom. In the early 70s there were about a dozen vaccines administered to children for seven different diseases in the United States. By 2013, if you followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) endorsed annual childhood vaccine schedule, your child would have received over 36 vaccines by the time they were 6 years of age! That's 36 vaccines filled with detergents, neurotoxic, carcinogenic, immunotoxic, and infertility agents at a time when a child's immune system is at its most critical point in development. We trusted vaccination because we weren't fully aware the false statistics that were produced by pharmaceutical industries and we certainly were not aware of the lies and questionable contribution of medical measures relating to mortality that we know of today. To those who inform themselves through diverse research interests, there is only one conclusion that drugs and vaccines are currently more risky than beneficial to human health. No longer is there a unified trust of the medical system among the population. We now know that most scientific studies on drugs and vaccination is not true science but industry funded propaganda. When we examine how medical science will cut, poison and burn via surgery, chemotherapy and using CT scans and radiation to diagnose and treat cancer, or if investigate how the use of psyche drugs to manage symptoms are usually at the cost of interfering with other precious physiological functions in young bodies, or any of the other myths medical doctors have been parroting for the last several decades, it's a no brainer that children must be further educated on the downfalls of a system which is designed to keep us sick rather than healthy.
8. We Played in Dirt and Wiped Our Hands and Faces With Soap and Water, Not Antibacterial Nonsense
What ever happened to soap and water? Who was the genius that started convincing parents to keep their children out of the mud and dirt and keep them saturated in chemical concoctions to remove bacteria? Antibacterial soaps didn't exist in the 70s and the incidence of allergies was quite infrequent among children. Today we know that parents who adopt and overly hygienic lifestyle for their children are at an increased risk of developing asthma, allergies and eczema. When babies' exposure to germs is so limited, their immune systems are deprived of the opportunity to learn how to fend off pathogens properly. Consequently their immune systems become so sensitive that the babies develop allergies. Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have at least partially admitted that anti-bacterial soaps may pose a threat to human health. The widespread use of these products containing the antibacterial agent triclosan are promoting growth of dangerous superbugs that didn't exist several decades ago.
9. Chemical Toxicity In Consumer Products Was Still Low Compared To Today BPA, fluoride, parabens, phthalates, PFOA, fiberglass, oxybenzone, BHA and dozens of other chemicals makes up a very long laundry list of environmental toxins which didn't affect every households in the 70s as they do today. Combine this with geoengineering initiatives polluting the entire atmosphere with toxins, and you have a toxic planet from soil to sky. Developing children are at even greater risk than adults for harm from the above chemicals. A child in the 1970s was far less poisoned overall than children are today. Current generations are exposed to toxic effects which are far reaching affecting almost every body system, so it is imperative that they learn how we must change our planet into one that is environmentally friendly with consumer products that benefit the planet and all its organisms rather than destroy it.
10. There Was No Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Dairy-Free, GMO-Free, Etc.
The 70s and 80s became the downfall of modern agriculture in terms of toxicity. We saw the introduction of the world’s greatest selling and most toxic herbicide glyphosate, which entered the marketplace in 1974. The herbicide quickly established itself as a mainstream product for widespread agricultural and consumer use. Monsanto quickly began manipulating plant genomes to develop genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) that not only tolerated glyphosate-based pesticides, but required their use. Up until the mid 70s we still had an amazing diversity of organic farms with very minimal pesticide use. The nutrient content of foods was still very high compared to today. With the advances in modern food technology came extended shelf life which added a tremendous diversity of emulsifiers, preservatives, artificial sweeteners to replace full-fat in dairy products, which led to low-fat and sugar-free products being introduced thereafter at the expense of our health. Only then was there an influx of dozens of harmful ingredients that were incorporated into many foods. It was also at this point when wheat, the world's most popular grain became the deadliest for the human metabolism. At some point in our history, this ancient grain was nutritious in some respects, however modern wheat really isn't wheat at all. Once agribusiness took over to develop a higher-yielding crop, wheat became hybridized to such an extent that it has been completely transformed from it's prehistorical genetic configuration. All nutrient content of modern wheat depreciated more than 30% in its natural unrefined state compared to its ancestral genetic line. The balance and ratio that mother nature created for wheat was also modified and human digestion and physiology could simply could not adapt quick enough to the changes. The concept of gluten being a very dangerous protein was then investigated and hence today, many foods are gluten-free. Dairy-free is another term that was absent from food labels. As milk became more harmful to human health through the introduction of more antibiotics, growth hormones and pasteurization, more people became increasingly ill in the 80s and onwards as factory milk farms created a liquid devoid of practically all nutrition. Besides the popularity of veganism today, more people are choosing dairy-free products due to what is now the inherent toxic nature of all processed cow milk.
I have fond memories of the 1970s and I'm sure people who grew up before this time also enjoyed even greater health and abundance. We must realize that with every passing decade comes a cycle of change. We can never go back to who we were and our focus should be on making our future better for ourselves and our children. We can continue on this cycle of fear and raise a generation of timid and paranoid children, or we can empower them to become all that they can be, accepting consequences and responsibility of becoming mature, benevolent, conscious and loving beings. When love is in the equation, fear usually takes a back seat. At that point, anything is possible.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.