With the 1990s now three decades behind us, many former 90s kids are becoming 21st-century moms and dads. And as they navigate their way through parenthood, they may find themselves looking back at some of the, well, questionable choices their own parents made. Let's take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about some of the things parents did in the 90s that would simply not fly in 2020.
They Let Children Ride in the Front Seat
Adults who grew up in the 90s may remember car rides where they could barely see over the dashboard. Sure, cruising through town in the front seat may have made you feel cool and grown-up, but it was far from a good idea.
A recent survey showed that 86% of drivers believe that it's safe to drive at least 16 kph (10 mph) over the speed limit. Unfortunately, according to the CACP, 27% of fatalities on Canadian roads are a direct result of speeding. This puts any passenger in a risky situation, but it's especially dangerous for small children who aren't appropriately secured in a car seat. That's because while airbags are built to protect adults at least five feet tall and roughly 150 pounds in a car crash, they aren't equipped to protect children. Airbags deploy rapidly, at a speed of roughly 322 kph. This amount of force delivered to a smaller child could cause severe injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children ages 13 and under ride buckled in the back seat for safety.
They Let Kids Play Alone at the Park
While the idea of "stranger danger" may have originated in the 1960s thanks to some admittedly problematic American campaigns, many parents were still sending their children out to roam the neighborhood without adult supervision in the 90s. A gang of school-aged children riding bicycles or playing at the park was not an uncommon sight back then, but today we would consider this taboo for a number of reasons.
First, though child abduction is more commonly committed by an adult the child already knows, "stranger danger" is still a very real thing. We are more familiar today than parents were in previous generations with the statistics surrounding predators and abductions, so many parents are hesitant to let their kids go unsupervised.
Secondly, playground equipment in the 90s was far from safe. From chipping paint to metal poles and rickety swingsets, jungle gyms were the source of many childhood injuries in the 90s. Chipped teeth, broken limbs, scraped knees -- we only hope our parents made sure we were up to date on our tetanus shots.
They Let Kids Go Barefoot
Speaking of tetanus, many former 90s kids remember the joys of running through their yards shoeless, feeling the cool grass between their toes. It was a great feeling, but one not without its risks. It's estimated that at least 85% of people are allergic to poison ivy, and that's not the only danger hiding in the tall grass. Sharp rocks, rusty nails, even animal feces poses a threat to bare feet.
They Let Their Kids Freely Surf the Web
The internet was still very much in its infancy in the 90s, so naturally, many parents weren't aware of the dangers that lurked on the web. As such, parental controls were practically non-existent. Honestly, 90s parents just didn't know better. But we do, which is why parents are now responsible for monitoring kids' online activities through parental control software. With an estimated 4,083,105,000 internet users worldwide in 2019, cyberspace is not the wholesome and innocent new world it once was.
It's undeniable: the world has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. And we've become a lot wiser to the dangers facing children in the 21st century. Parents who once enjoyed those small liberties as "free-range" children in the 90s (though sometimes risking life and limb) are now having to make difficult decisions to maintain the safety of their own children. Just remember, it's a delicate balance.