Two sisters. Nine years apart. A lifetime between them. Alice is a 14 year old girl, born back in the 90s. Katherine is a 5 year old girl who is growing up in the age of technology. Their lives might seem similar, but their childhoods are quite different.
Katherine plays with all the things kids her age usually do. She draws, and reads books with her family. She likes to dress up and she performs puppet shows. She has countless stuffed toys, including animals of every kind. And when it comes to dolls, Barbies aren’t the end of it. Dolls of all shapes and sizes can be found around the house. Her toys don’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. But there is an element to Katherine’s childhood that Alice never had. Katherine’s family owns an iPad, a touch-screen tablet that was released by Apple in 2012. The iPad has a number of different apps and games, all of which Katherine plays. She can sit there for hours and find her way through a maze, or run a race, all without having to leave the comfort of the sofa. Not only does Katherine use an iPad, but she plays games on the computer, and there is always some entertaining children’s show available on the TV. And, if that isn’t enough, their family has a large collection of DVDs, with a number of different movies right at her fingertips. To add to that technology, she has her own toy laptop, remote control car, iPod and even a real, working, second-hand phone.
Alice, on the other hand, had quite a different childhood. Like Katherine, she read books and performed puppet shows. She also drew pictures and dressed up in a number of different costumes. She had a magic-8 ball to help her tell the future and had a collection of hundreds of different marbles, which she would take to school and trade with her friends. She had slinkys, and would spend hours watching them fall down the stairs, until they’d eventually get too tangled to use. She would spend a lot of time outside playing games with her friends, pretending to own shops or restaurants. She’d make daisy chains; play Top Trumps and cat’s cradle. The toys that came in cereal boxes were some of the most exciting things ever back then. But what really makes Alice’s childhood different is the lack of technology, compared to what Katherine has. Alice owned a DiscMan, rather than an iPod, and used bulky black video tapes instead of DVDs. The availability of TV channels was sparse. The highlight of technology at the time was the Tamagotchi. A Tamagotchi is a handheld digital game created in Japan. It is basically a virtual pet that needs to be fed and entertained. They aren’t used as much nowadays because of the new electronic toys that have been released in recent years. Tamagotchi has now even become a free App that can be downloaded onto a tablet, iPhone or iPod. Alice never would’ve dreamed of owning a phone or a laptop.
At first thought, a 9 year age gap doesn’t seem like a lot , but when it comes down to the different toys and technology that existed then and that exists now, the two childhoods seem worlds apart.