Will Today’s Technology Affect Tomorrow’s Nostalgia?

What effects will today’s technology have on the memories of our children? It’s something I’ve been pondering lately. As a child of the eighties, I look at today’s children and see a vast contrast in my upbringing and their upbringings. Let’s kick it off with a little comparison session…

Then: We watched TV shows once then filed them away in our memory banks.
Now: It’s the age of YouTube.

Then: Our parents would buy a 24 picture camera film for special occasions and take 24 random snaps.
Now: Parents own digital cameras that hold several hundreds of pictures. Throw in the camera phone for good measure too.

Then: Photo albums.
Now: Facebook and YouTube.

Then: Diaries.
Now: Facebook and YouTube. And Twitter.

Let’s take a look at the “Then” section. Having grown up in the eighties, I reminisce about my childhood through memories. Sure, I have some photos to look back on and maybe a home video or two. But for the most part, remembering my childhood is reliant on me having a good memory. I’m sure you folks who are in the same age group as me have been through this scenario before: Sitting around as teens talking about how awesome old TV shows were. Bringing up old TV show names, testing out whether anybody else remembered them. It all relied memory (I’m talking about the pre-Internet age of course). Then maybe you’d reminisce about camping trips you went on as kids. You couldn’t remember all the details, but some things certainly did stand out to you.

Okay, time for “Now.” Let’s take a child born around 2006. That child has sat front of a telly and has begun to love certain TV shows (just like we did in the eighties.) But are they going to go through that whole reminiscing stage that we did as teens? I’m thinking not. We now have YouTube. Will their favourite shows ever really go away? Fast forward the life of a little boy or girl who used to love watching “The Wizards of Waverly Place” as a kid. Fast forward ten years from now and the show has disappeared from the airwaves. Will they be asking each other “Do you remember that old Wizard show we used to watch as kids?” Nope. They’re more than likely to just go look it up on YouTube. No memory involved. Their memory is not being challenged.

Eighties kids, your parents probably put together photo albums from your childhoods. As you got older, it was fun to flick through their pages and reminisce about what you were doing at a certain age. Fast forward to the modern-era and the game has totally changed. These days we have digital cameras that can shoot hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures. Whereas us oldies have a select few shots to jog our memories about our pasts, today, almost every event of a child’s life can be catalogued. All the important stuff as well as the mundane stuff. Birthday’s are covered by digital cameras, but so are those random times such as when a little four-year old got covered in chocolate ice cream one thursday evening. Nothing has to be logged into the memory banks.

Now some of us may have kept diaries back in the eighties, but as far as I’m aware that was the exception, not the rule. So, once again, reminiscing comes in to play. We’re challenged to piece together old memories to retell the older stories about our lives. But today, we have Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Today’s kids aren’t necessarily going to have to piece together memories. They can just look back on the Facebooks, YouTube accounts and Twitter accounts of their parents. If their parents were obsessed with using those sites, the lives of their children will be catalogued from day-to-day. As todays children grow up, instead of reminiscing about their pasts, they’ll just be able to read about them through old status updates and online photos/videos. So again, there’s no challenge to the memories of a modern child.

Now I’m not saying that things are evolving for the worse, I’m just trying to point out the vast differences between a child of the eighties and a child of today. Memories of each childhood will now be vastly different. The eighties child is forced to remember everything. The modern child is not. It’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. We’re not going to see the effects of the modern age upbringing for perhaps 10-15 years from now, but it’s going to be interesting to observe whenever it gets here.