Young Gen X/old millenials: what was it like growing up in the 80s?

I'm 34, born in '81, so technically on the cusp, but I solidly identify as Gen X. My perspective is as a little kid in the 80s, and my parents were young, some of their friends and my uncles who were always around were just teenagers.

I would sit with my radio right next to the TV speaker and record MTV (Madonna, Michael Jackson) and Nickelodeon (You Can't Do That on Television) onto cassette tapes. I only had cable at my grandparents. We didn't have a VCR, although you could rent them from the video store.

I wanted to be a punk rocker like Cyndi Lauper, and, later, Lisa Bonnet on The Cosby Show, and sometimes my parents would call me Punky (like Punky Brewster). That's how I dressed. Fashion, expensive brands, was a thing for little kids. No one cared about name brands in my kindergarten. I can remember being teased, even bullied, but I can't remember anyone ever caring about what people wore. I think that didn't start until you got older.

I would play outside alone for hours, no big deal, and was running around my couple of neighborhood blocks with friends by the time I was 5 or 6. I had friends of all ages, but parents were never around to supervise. Sometimes we'd even go far, off in the woods to play, or to the park, for hours and hours. Just be home by dark. Adults had no desire to be hanging out with the kids, and kids definitely didn't want them around. We were taught to be responsible and smart...Not that we always were, of course, but no one thought we needed, or wanted to give us, constant supervision or attention. In first grade, when I lived just a mile or two from school, I walked to/from school every day, even Winter, either alone or with friends my same age. No one thought anything of it.

I was in dance class, I think twice a week when I was real little, just like everyone else. No one had a scheduled activity every-single-day after school. You came home and played, whether your parents were home from work or not. I started preschool when I was 4, kindergarten, first grade--I never had homework until second grade.

I collected charms for my charm necklace and stickers for my sticker book, and played with Shrinky Dinks. The Disney I watched was all classic Disney--Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and all the popular cartoons, and Golden Girls with my grandma. The cool 80s toys I had were a Pogo Ball and a Roller Racer.

As a little kid, I'd type on my grandma's manual typewriter, and my grandparents had a big red rotary phone. No one had a computer, I only seen them on movies. (I loved Weird Science.) The AT&T store, where my mom paid the phone bill, had a technology of the future display that had a clunky video phone that was fascinating. The first time I ever used a computer was in 2nd grade. It was an AppleIIe with DOS and a green monitor and all I did was play Number Munchers. Every single computer I use in school until 11th grade (1998) would be that same type of Apple with DOS, to play Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, the two best computer games ever made. (We never even typed on the computers...I never had a computer at home until college.)

My favorite thing was Weekly Readers, reading about Communism and the USSR and the Berlin Wall. I didn't know any of the details, or understand it, but it was really interesting to me and I can remember even as a very little kid talk of the Cold War was everywhere.

I wanted to grow-up to be an astronaut-teacher like Christa McAuliffe. I remember watching The Challenger.

I also remember First Lady Nancy Reagan being very prominent, in a lot of commercials, promoting reading and Just Say No. She was always in red.

/r/GenX Thread