The older generation is sharing what they did for fun before the internet age and it’s a nostalgia trip

Many shared that a large part of their day consisted of simply spending time outdoors with their friends and family.

Cover image source: 1990s vintage photograph of a silly little boy upside down after climbing a tree. /Getty Images

Nowadays, almost everyone spends most of their time online, and the younger you are, the more likely you are to spend your day in front of a screen. Given how indispensable the internet has become, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when it just… didn’t exist. But if you’re of a certain age, you remember those days before the internet all too well, and perhaps very fondly, despite how crazy it may seem to many young people today. A Reddit user u/_mayora13_ she asked, “Teenagers before the Internet: What did you do in your room during your free time? What activities did you do (by activities, I mean hobbies or things to pass the time)? Did you get bored more easily?”


Happy kid smiling while riding amusement park ride on carefree summer vacation.  Real life vintage family photos, real people, full length candid portrait.  Vintage photograph of a little girl with 90s style wearing 90s fashion looking over her shoulder.  There is copy space and motion blur, motion and soft focus./Getty Images
Happy kid smiling while riding amusement park ride on carefree summer vacation. Real life vintage family photos, real people, full length candid portrait. Vintage photograph of a little girl with 90s style wearing 90s fashion looking over her shoulder. There is copy space and motion blur, motion and soft focus./Getty Images

Over 9,000 Redditors chimed in to talk about their childhood whims and fantasies. Here are some of the best answers we’ve found:

1. Boredom Was Never An Option:

“Reading. A lot. Watching movies. Talking on the phone. For hours at a time. Assuming I was at home in my room. Which wasn’t much… I was at the mall with friends or hanging out at their house, going to the movies , in arcades, etc. I was never bored. Even when I was home alone in my room. Boredom was not a thing when I had a good book.”u/we-stoke-the-fire

2. Mixtapes and muscles:

“I miss it. Recording songs off the radio onto a tape was amazing. I loved it. So being so proud of myself if I could recognize the song fast enough to press record and get as much out of the beginning of the song as possible. That’s probably one of the main reasons I was able to identify songs from the 70s and 80s so well. I had to “exercise” that muscle while recording the tapes.”u/-DementedAvenger-

3. We Love “Pulp Fiction”

“Mostly video games, but my best friend and I spent a summer making a clay version of ‘Pulp Fiction’ using Gumby characters. It was fun.”u/xmadjesterx

4. Hi, it’s me

“It’s hard to overemphasize to the younger generation how much time we spent chatting on the phone. Hours. HOURS at a time. So much so that phone companies started offering ‘teen lines’ which were just second phone lines set up in your home so the kid didn’t hog the phone all day and nobody could call you.”u/vespidaevulgaris

5. The key boy

“Reading was a big thing, and listening to music. Being a key kid gave me so much time with my parents’ records. If it wasn’t for that alone time with Sam Cooke, I would have clapped at the first beat like a hibilly .”u/Academic_Snow_7680

7. Do it yourself

“I wrote in my journal, decorated my walls, did my homework, read magazines, played with makeup, and tried out outfit ideas for school.”u/fingersonlips

8. Tom from Myspace?

“I watched VHS tapes, TV, read a book, listened to the radio waiting for your favorite song with your tape ready to record, went out to see friends, talked on the phone.
Technically my generation, older millennials were among the first to really use the internet. But it wasn’t like now. We were still out and using the internet was a privilege. Unless you had 2 lines, you could only be online until someone had to use the phone. Most homes only had 1 computer because they were expensive. As for social media, I remember blackplanet and MySpace being a big deal, but it didn’t take as long as social media does now.”u/jolietia

9. Do you remember outside?

“Reading books/comics, listening to music, watching TV, smoking weed, playing video games, playing my computer (Commodore 64, Apple II), talking on the phone or CB. I guess I was bored at times like any teenager. Also there was this thing called ‘out.’ He would ride his bike, hang out at the 7-11, the Arcade or Bowling Alley (which was basically an arcade) or even the pool hall (they had pinball machines) back in the day.”u/Fearless747

10. Barbie Crack:

“When I was a teenager, I had the internet, but I also did other things. Here’s what I did:

-Draw (digital and traditional) I’ve done this A LOT.
-Listen to music (I had a different brand mp3 player that was stolen a long time ago). I have done this very often.
– I played single player games on my windows vista laptop and my tablet and phone.
-I went to my sister’s house to play ‘F****head Barbie’ I would film us doing it on my old flip phone. I still have the phone and videos, but they get corrupted when trying to transfer them to other devices.)

I think I did other things too, but I don’t remember them by heart.”u/Present_Half_9398

11. Basking In The Atmosphere:

“Talked on the phone, drove around and went shopping/eating out, hanging out, playing video games, athletic activities like shooting hoops or throwing a football around, going out hoping to make out, watching movies or going to the movies, sneaking in someone’s pool or hot tub. Afterwards we celebrated a bit with drinking games. We were also mostly all involved in some sort of extracurricular activity that we could enjoy together with our teammates. We weren’t bored because in the end We found something to do.”u/Temporary-Dot4952

The Arenstein family watches a video on television./Getty Images
The Arenstein family watches a video on television./Getty Images


12. Always Be Organized:

“Talking endlessly on the phone, endlessly arguing about whose turn it was to talk on the phone, putting up posters on walls of magazine clippings, toys, drawings, puzzles, rewinding all your tapes that you just listened to, editing your clothes, practice makeup, wear lip sync shoes for your pillows/pads. Oh, stickers! In sticker books! Fix all your stickers.”u/Sorry_Engineer_

13. Neanderthal

“I remember doing silly things like a couple of friends would go out into the woods and pick a tree and pick up rocks and see who could peel off the biggest chunk of bark from about 30 feet away, while arguing about which Ranger power was the best or something and not get bored at all for hours.Sorry to all who never got to experience that kind of thing.u/ZacharyShade

14. Deep listening

“One of my favorite things was what I called ‘deep listening’ to albums. Either a band I liked would drop something or I’d just pick one of my favourites, smoke a nice joint, put some headphones on, lay back in bed and absorb the “entire album from start to finish. Every note, every word. Loved it. Even though I wrote songs and poems, practiced my singing (screaming) like a wannabe frontman, read tons of books (all Stephen King as a teenager ), play video games, talk on the phone for hours with girls. To be completely honest, I mourn the loss of the world before the internet. Before our attention and data became a commodity.”u/Live_For_A_Living

15. Go to page 394

“You know how you read the entire ‘Harry Potter’ book series? In the 80s, we were always reading books like that. Also, growing up in a time where ‘Mom, I need a ride to…’ not “It doesn’t really exist, I rode my bike everywhere. To this day, bike = freedom.” — u/CapnScrunch