10 Best Things ABout Being a Child of the 90s

As a child of the 90s living in a world that has turned digital literally in the blink of an eye, I look back as waves of nostalgia washes through me. I feel as if I am standing on the cusp between two worlds, one of which is the world that we know today and the other world is what we knew before social media and the Internet took over. I look back with some sadness that that world no longer exists, but at the same time with relief that I was able to witness a world in which my every being is not dictated by what Alexa says or the latest TikTok craze. In this blog post, I want to share with you the 10 best things about being a child of the 90s.

VCR and Video Tapes

A VCR against a solid black background.
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

I remember having literally scores of video tapes in an old cabinet in the living room of my childhood home. I remember selecting one to watch and then having to stick it in the VCR and wait five or ten minutes for it to rewind back to the beginning. And then, sometimes the video tape might stop, so you had to pull it out and untangle the strips of film, and then the process would begin again.

Plastic Cameras and Photo Albums

An opened book with two black and white pictures displayed. There is a cup of coffee set next to the book, and a croissant on the book.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

In the 90s, we had these plastic cameras that you could buy at your local Walmart. I remember using those plastic cameras, taking a dozen or so pictures, and then dropping them off at a box. We would then wait a week or so for the pictures to develop. During that time, we had no idea how the pictures would turn out. We had no idea if they were any good. Chances are, most of the pictures could have been blurry and would have to be scrapped. But still, it was always a treasure to be able to open that paper envelope and riffle through the photos, not knowing what to expect.

My parents kept so many photo albums filled with hundreds of pictures. Flipping through those photo albums is like taking a walk down memory lane. Today, everything is digital and all the photos are in digital album. That is all good, but it isn’t the same as having photos that you can literally touch. Digital photos don’t feel as if they really exist because they are just digital. With the wrong click of a button, a digital photo can disappear into the place where all deleted objects go (have you been there yet?). But with actual photos, they have the ability to withstand time. They may get a little grungy around the edges, but they are there to pass on to your children.

90s Computers

My idea of a good time when I was younger was getting on the huge, bulky 95 computers and playing pinball or creating a “masterpiece” using Paint. Sometimes my teachers would give us indoor free time and let us have it on the two computers in the back of the classroom. There might have been less than five things that we could do on those computers, but it didn’t matter. Because the games were still pretty fun. I remember drawing things on Paint with friends, creating an odd assortment of shapes and colors. But have you ever tried drawing with a mouse? It’s pretty difficult and not the same as using a stylus on a tablet as kids can today.

Brittany Spears and The Spice Girls

If you grew up in the 90s, then you grew up listening to Brittany Spears and The Spice Girls. In fact, my very first CD I ever owned was the song You Drive Me Crazy by Brittany Spears. I used to love her music, her lyrics, and her voice. I used to wish desperately that I could emulate it but unfortunately I wasn’t gifted the singing muse. And then, there was also The Spice Girls. I remember my friend telling me about them and I, like most girls of the 90s, loved them. But I never had a favorite Spice Girl.

Growing Up with Harry Potter

A German copy of the first Harry Potter lies on a white surface next to a small model of the globe and a black headset.
Photo by Dzenina Lukac on Pexels.com

If I talk about the 90s, then I cannot fail to mention Harry Potter. Harry Potter was my entire childhood. I first started reading the books when I was in seventh grade. Well, that was technically not the ’90s. But, Harry Potter was first published in the 90s, in 1997. Also, the character of Harry Potter was born in 1980, so he also grew up in the ’90s, though about a decade earlier than I did. Even though I didn’t start reading the Harry Potter books until I was in seventh grade in 2001, it still definitely counts as being a part of the ’90s (as well as ’00s).

And growing up with the Harry Potter books while waiting for each book to be published was the best. The anticipation, the fascination, and the wonderment were all feelings that I experienced as we waited for bated breath, waiting to see what would happen next. I would reread the books that were already out, counting down the days until the next book was out. I would read the books late into the night, telling myself one more chapter. Even today, I still read the books because they are just so darn enjoyable and it’s like taking a step back into memory lane. Kids today who are discovering the books for the first time will never get to see what it was like to have to wait for the books to be published. Kids today just purchase all seven books and read them back to back with no waiting in between.

And then when the seventh Harry Potter book was published in 2007, it felt like not only the end of an era, but the end of my childhood as I had just graduated from high school. I felt as if I had come of age at the same time as Harry Potter. It was a bittersweet moment for the books that I grew up with to be over at the moment that my childhood was also over.

(See also: 7 Reasons Why I Always Wanted To Go To Hogwarts)

Playing Outside

I feel as if kids today spend way too much time inside watching TV, playing games on their tablets, or playing on their Nintendo Switch. When I was a kid in the 90s, we didn’t have tablets and our games weren’t portable. They were connected by wire to these ugly, gray boxy consoles that you could play Mario on. And we definitely had a TV, but it was the huge, boxy kind, quite unlike the small, flat screens ones today. But as a child of the 90s, the best fun could be had was from simply playing outside. My best memories were from being outside. I remember playing in the sprinkles outside in the front yard (sometimes with clothes, sometimes with a bathing suit). I remember riding my bicycle up and down the street, pretending that I was flying. And I remember exploring the backyard of my childhood home, looking for treasure.

CDs and Mix Tapes

A couple of CDs reflecting light.
Photo by Mati Mango on Pexels.com

One of the biggest technological devices in the 90s was the CD player. Before the invention of the iPod, you would find people with headsets on and carrying a CD player, rocking out to their favorite songs. You would find people with an album full of CDs. Some of those CDs would be mix tapes. And if you were lucky enough to be gifted a mix tape from someone, then you had gotten the best gift.

Baggy Jeans, Cropped Tops, and Colorful Blazers, Oh My!

In the 90s, you often caught people wearing baggy jeans that flared out at the bottom, cropped tops that showed their midriff, and colorful blazers, amongst others. I loved those jeans from the 90s and was disappointed when they were eventually replaced by the skinny jeans. Those jeans were definitely my favorite from the 90s and I loved wearing my favorite pair.

Butterfly Clips and Crimped Hair

In the 90s, girls and women wore butterfly clips in their hair. They had crimped hair. Think Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World. I used to fantasize about having crimped hair, but never got to wear my hair like that.

Cataloging Books

When I was a child at school, I remember learning how to search for books using the old cataloging system, or the Dewey Decimal System. I remember actually taking a test on how to search for books using this system. But then a year or two later, the system seemed to just magically go away as the school librarian turned to computers to catalogue books. Needless to say, I was disappointed, as I didn’t really get a chance to use my newfound knowledge.

What about you? What do you think was one of the hallmarks about the 90s? Or what was the best thing about the decade that you grew up in?

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 32 year old biracial millennial mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

15 thoughts on “10 Best Things ABout Being a Child of the 90s

  1. Cropped tops have made a comeback! 🙌 They’re literally everywhere now and it drives me nuts. Too much of a good thing, maybe?

    It was better in the 90’s with the flared jeans (bell-bottoms, or was that a different era?) Now, all jeans are high rise. Personally, I am not a fan of high rise jeans, shorts etc. I can’t find anything that fits me, and the other day I saw a cropped spring jacket and cropped hoodie. Seriously? How is this functional? Perhaps I’m hating a tad bit on Gen Z fashion because I can’t wear anything or feel good wearing any of this stuff. I’m convinced that body positivity sprinkled with positive affirmations is a pipe dream.

    Butterfly clips still exist but are quite hard to find. I used my hair crimper more often than I used my blow-dryer 😂 Yes, Britney Spears made everything better except I can’t vouch for Spice Girls. I didn’t like the Spice Girls as a kid but appreciate their music as an adult.

  2. I was amazed to see that you could still get disposable cameras in certain places. Gift shops and tourist attractions have them. I had to buy one once recently because my phone died 😅

  3. The good old days 💜
    I LOVED my Walkman and butterfly clips! My hair is naturally curly, but there’s been plenty of times I straightened it to crimp it 😄
    I remember playing The Titanic on the playground, we would climb to the top and put our arms out, like we were on the ship 😂

  4. This was a great trip down memory lane! I also loved the plastic cameras that you could drop off at the photo counter at the local store. The anticipation of waiting for the photos to be developed was too much sometimes! It was always a treat picking them up and going through them. Laughing at the silly or blurry photos and cherishing the rare “picture perfect” gems!

  5. Solid blazers and dress pants with patterns to make your eyes bulge!; paisley neck ties that were four inches wide; tie-dyed shirts and sewed-on lengtheners to jeans that were frayed at the bottom; portable tape recorders; mini-cameras that took 110mm film; Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, and Barry Manilow; the Polymoog and REO Speedwagon; discovering C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien before they were popular.
    Guess the decade?
    The 70s! “There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen, 1977, the founder of DEC (Digital Equipment Corp) 😂

    1. Yesss! It was great fun for sure. That also reminds me of the old Word Art in Microsoft Word. To think that we had such few options for fonts lol

  6. My oldest daughter was born in 2000 and she’ll never know some of these things. We did have a VCR when she was small though. I finally got rid of all the old VHS tapes last year.

    I remember it would take me all day to make a 90 minute mix-tape. Back in the day, I had an original Sony Walkman – the cassette version. I used to bop all over town listening to my music. I loved my mix-tapes because 90 minutes of music was way better than 45 minutes on a pre-recorded album cassette. I really wish I had kept my walkman…and the tapes.

  7. I loved this! I also grew up in the 90s (almost 30 now) and it was awesome. Waking up early on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons was the best. But I think the best thing about growing up in the 90s is the lack of social media – we could do stupid stuff without evidence on the internet 🙂

  8. I loved the 90s too; even though I’m older.
    It was when I was in my late teens/early 20s. I enjoyed going out with my friends. It was exciting times for me then.
    I felt very nostalgic reading your post. 😀

  9. These were happy times, really. We lived real lives. Feeling nostalgic now 🤣. Definitely aren’t a fan of skinny jeans.
    But some things sucked, even in their own cute way, like having to rewind tapes after listening/watching, or having to do it manually.

  10. Love this article. I’m writing about my musical memories on my own blog so I have spent a lot of time, mentally at least, in the 1970s! I think what I most appreciated about my childhood was the freedom I had to just go off and play whenever I wanted. As long as you were back for meals everything was fine.
    I also liked the fact that here in the UK we only had three channels and, for most of the 70s, VCRs were way out of the price range of most people. You either watched a programme or you missed it so you could always discuss it at school the next day without wondering if you were going to spoil the programme for then or vice versa. None of this bingeing where one person is on Season 3, another is on Season 8 and another has it on their list to start! This meant that popular culture was a truly shared experience.
    Yes there were a lot of things that were not as good as the 90s but those were the big advantages for me.

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