Ah, the ’90s. No other decade was quite as grungy, outspoken, or innovative. The decade saw incredible rises in new technologies, as well as unexpected social changes. Regardless of the worldwide implications of those 10 years, everyone knows ’90s kids were the real winners of this decade. The unique intersection of new technologies and new perspectives gave ’90s kids a truly distinctive growing up experience. So grab your POGs, CD ROMS, and Pokémon cards, these 30 experiences are things every ’90s kid can appreciate.
1. They Loved JTT
There are two kinds of ’90s kids, those who had a crush on JTT, and liars.
2. They Hated NES Cartridges
Game consoles today are light years ahead of where they were for ’90s kids. Despite the limited graphics, wired controllers, nonexistent soundtracks, and simplified levels, we were still stoked to play video games even if the arcade was closed. Every ’90s kid shares the eternal bond of fighting with your NES system to get your game to play. Various combinations of dusting, breathing, and jiggling the power source will always be the hallmark of the ’90s kid experience.
3. They Had To Be Patient
In less than 10 years we’ve gone from clunky cable to audiences controlling exactly when and where they watch a show. Incredible freedom to watch media on mobile devices means kids today will never know the pain of waiting seven entire days for the next episode. Binge watching a show was only possible through mass numbers of VHS tapes, but those always seemed to get ruined anyways. This is possibly the most disturbing hardship of the ’90s kid.
4. They Had Limited Game Worlds
Along with game systems that were first-generation and full of glitches, ’90s kids were forced to play games with limited worlds. Whether the games took place in one room or had a simplified 8-bit scrolling track, the backgrounds, settings, and explorable space amounted to less than one room in Skyrim.
5. They Had Limited Game Songs
While ’90s kids were playing that game with only one objective over and over, we were happy to perpetually rock out to the 45-second MIDI loop that made the soundtrack. Not only was game space so limited that songs couldn’t even use real instruments, you were virtually guaranteed to sing the song for months afterwards. Oh, and by the way, there’s no memory on your game console, so you can’t save. Every ’90s kid can remember leaving their game system on for a week in order to pass a game, praying their parents wouldn’t notice.
6. They Had the Real Power Rangers
’90s kids also have the unique distinction of watching the Power Rangers when they used karate and quick thinking, not just weapons.
7. They Were the Only Ones Who Loved the Internet
The Internet in the ’90s was not only limited in the number of websites available, it was also limited because many people from older generations thought the Internet was a trend. Despite the fact that our middle and high school papers had plenty of sources waiting at our fingertips, most ’90s kids can remember being forbidden from using the Internet for research at school. Sure, other generations can complain about having to do their homework by flipping through stacks and stacks of textbooks, but no other generation knows the pain of flipping through stacks of textbooks right next to a computer connected to the Internet. However, who knows how much research we could’ve done on a dial-up connection anyway?
8. They Had Too Many 2D Cartoons
Not only did ’90s kids have to suffer through subpar gaming, we also had much simpler cartoons. Not only were cartoons always two dimensional, the ones that were three dimensional were rendered on computers less powerful than your iPhone. Though this caused untold heartache, seeing Toy Story on the big screen for the first time was pretty cool.
9. They All Wished To Be Topanga
After getting through the entire school week with none of the shows we liked to watch, ’90s kids would get together on Friday nights to tune in to our favorite shows. Every ’90s kid will remember the mainstay Boy Meets World, because all of us spent the weekend crying that we didn’t have Topanga’s hair.
10. They Had Too Many Road Trips
I know what you’re thinking, yes, everyone is forced into a road trip at one time or another. But picture everything you hate about a road trip, with absolutely no screens whatsoever. Not only did we not have sophisticated mobile game options like the PSP or 3DS, there was no way to play VHS movies in vehicles for a long time. Plus, don’t forget that MP3 players were still a long ways off, so your very best hope was a pile of tapes and your parents’ Walkman. Combine this with less frequent air travel, and every ’90s kid likely has a few road trip horror stories to tell.
11. They Had TV-less Airplanes
Much like being bored to death in the back your parents’ minivan, if you were lucky enough to fly somewhere instead, airplanes didn’t have television screens either. Unlike today, you couldn’t even suffer through reruns of shows you don’t watch anyway, you just had to watch the slightly sweaty stranger next to you slowly fall sleep.
12. “Bro, that hyper color looks rad.”
There’s no way to explain why hyper color was cool. If you don’t get it, you just weren’t a ’90s kid.
13. They Weren’t Warned About Mufasa’s Death
There were great moments for kids’ movies in the ’90s, and then there were traumatizing ones. Imagine if the first time you watched Simba’s father die, the image was as big as an IMAX screen.
14. They Had To Be Kind And Rewind
Every ’90s kid can commiserate together over the hours we’ll never get back from VCRs. Not only did you have to rewind the movie every time you viewed it, the last person at the video rental store usually didn’t. Infinite sleepovers, family nights, and parties were interrupted by needing to rewind. There is no way to measure the number of moods killed at the hands of this ’90s relic, not to mention the dollars we’ll never get back from overpriced video rental stores. To this day, I, like all ’90s kids, am tempted to bow down in front of a Redbox machine every time I see one.
15. They Had Tamagotchi
Just like the plastic and paper toys we collected, ’90s kids were first to see the rise of mobile gaming. Looking at a Tamagotchi now seems boring, but at the time, we were more than happy to have games follow us wherever we went.
16. They Played With Gak
Though the decade was a sea of nonsensical trends, the ’90s also gave rise to one of the greatest toys of all time, Gak. This toy did nothing, had very few uses, and ultimately ended up permanently glued into your mom’s carpet, yet every ’90s kid had to have their own tub. Neon colored and virtually useless, every ’90s kid has a soft spot in their heart for this toy.
17. They Saw Limitless Trends
Sure the ’80s saw a lot of consumers buy pet rocks, but nobody did trends quite like the ’90s kids. Aside from Gak and Tamagotchi, Pokemon, Digimon, Crazy Bones, POGs, and countless others made the ’90s a heyday of collectible toys. This is one thing ’90s kids remember that parents are probably glad to see go by the wayside.
18. They Had Only Two Players
Early video consoles not only played simplified, less captivating games, most only had the capacity for two players. If you had a group of friends over or were having a party, you were forced to switch off between players, never truly getting a group experience.
19. They Had Dramatic TV Goodbyes
In the pre-9/11 world, passengers were not the only people allowed into an airport terminal. Countless TV shows and movies revolved around a last-minute meeting at the airport terminal gate. Such a thing could never happen today, wiping out the credibility of countless TV and movie moments.
20. They Loved Supergroups
Sure every decade has their share of musical groups, however the ’90s was a golden age of supergroups. Like collectible toys, ’90s kids had limitless choices when it came to boy and girl groups. Many people are happy that the music industry today has thrown away this particular trend, but nothing felt quite as exciting to a ’90s kid as a new N’Sync or Spice Girl CD.
21. They Were Forced To Use The A: Drive
Only kids from the early ’90s can say they had to use more than four discs to install a game on the computer. Floppy disks were fragile, low capacity, and took up way too much space.
22. They Had Sitcoms
Another thing ’90s kids have in common is being the last generation to be swept up in a multitude of TV sitcoms. The increasing options for where we get our media, including cable networks, online streaming, and greater access to foreign TV, makes for a much more diverse landscape of TV genres now. The last 15 years have seen a sharp decrease in three camera, laugh track ridden, location limited sitcoms. It seems the years of Seinfeld, Friends, Will and Grace, Roseanne, and similar shows, has finally come to an end.
23. Their Screens Weighed More Than You Do
In today’s world of shrinking screen thickness, ’90s kids can likely remember having to haul computer or television screens that were a workout in themselves.
24. They Had No Internet Speed
Not only was the Internet disregarded by many as inconsequential, it was also slow as molasses. ’90s kids are likely to still hear internet dial-up tones in their nightmares.
25. They Had Jurassic Park First
All the things ’90s kids struggled with we gained back in Jurassic Park. Easily among the most innovative films of all time, it was exciting and mind blowing to see such sophisticated special effects for the first time.
26. They Loved Mary-Kate and Ashley
In a decade rife with tween and teen stars, nobody was quite as ingenious as Mary-Kate and Ashley. The bulk of their vast media empire was built when they were young teens, through a series of direct to video movies. Any ’90s kid, or at least any ’90s kid with a sister, will recall a childhood full of piles and piles of Mary-Kate and Ashley mysteries, stories, and movies.
27. They Treasured Logo Sweaters
Much to the chagrin of our parents, ’90s kids were crazy about name brands. No ’90s closet was complete without at least a few sweaters showing nothing but a brand name in giant letters. Between GAP, Nike, Adidas, and many other brands, every ’90s kid was a glorified billboard at one point or another.
28. They Didn’t Need Reality TV
Reality TV is one of the cheapest genres to shoot, since there’s no “name brand” talent, and filming can take place in everyday locations. With the advent of Survivor (which first hit TVs in Europe in the late ’90s), TV channels were more than happy to begin producing reality TV programs by the boatload. In today’s climate of more reality programming than not, every ’90s kid is caught wishing for the good old days.
29. They Saw The First Cell Phones
When cell phones were invented, they were easily the size of a brick. Ignorant to the ultimately incredible and life-changing things cell phones would bring to the table, every ’90s kid can remember mocking their parents for using clunky, giant, heavy cell phones.
30. They Had To Use CDs
Despite the limited space on CDs, most of us were more than happy to cart around a booklet of hundreds of disks and a Discman just so we could listen to music. Surprisingly, the worst part about using a Discman wasn’t the 30 CDs you needed along with it, it was the a laser that read the disk. If you were jogging, in a car, or even walking home, the laser would skip with the slightest bump to the device. Yet another reason all of us were beyond excited when MP3 players hit the scene in the early 2000s.