Growing Up in the 2010s: What was it Like?

Every decade has different trends, music and clothing that brings nostalgia. Those who grew up in the ‘60s, likely look back on the times they sported their favorite bell-bottom jeans. For ‘70s kids, they reminisce back when jewelry was made of wood, stones, feathers and beads. ‘80s kids, they most definitely remember their bright headbands and wristbands. 

I was born in late 2004, so the childhood I remember took place in the early 2010s. Specifically, I remember the ages of six to 12 the most, which was during 2010-2016. 

As technology has grown since 2010, now the immediacy of it makes children impatient in their everyday life, and it affects tasks they do at home, or even at school.

Growing up, when I was bored I would use my imagination for anything. Imagination is so critical in the lives of children because it influences everything they do and create. When children let their imaginations roam free, they will start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. Growing up I loved anything medical related because I had a Doctor Barbie doll. I wanted to be a doctor so badly for years and then decided it wasn’t for me. 

A Barbie Doll. Picture by Elena Mishlanova on Unsplash.

Children also need to realize that there is more out there than what’s shown on TV and media. I always found myself wanting to be whatever Barbie doll I had. I soon found out I wanted to be a news reporter, even though I never had the TV reporter Barbie.

Jameson Irwin is a freshman at SUNY Plattsburgh. He was born in 2003 and his favorite part about growing up was that kids growing up in the 2010s had a different type of childhood because of the trends and especially the development of technology.

“Sure, the internet and some social media existed, but it’s nothing like how it is today,” Irwin said. “It was rare for anyone our age to have phones, so we used our imagination, toys and each other to have fun.” 

The 2010s was a different era for technology. Kids today have TikTok, and we had which was used to make fun, innocent lip-syncing videos. 

Irwin explained how kids today are easily influenced by technology and social media more than ever and how younger ages are getting more access to phones and tablets. In today’s generation of kids, it is sometimes more likely for a child to have or want an iPad over a toy.

When I was young, I had countless Barbie dolls, Bratz dolls, Monster High dolls and toy cars. Having all these toys made my imagination more expandable. All of my friends and I would play this game called House where we would all roleplay as members of a made up family. I remember always wanting to be the older sister in this game because I am the youngest in my family and always wanted a baby sibling. Our imaginations would run free in this game. In one scenario, my friends and I would all sit in a row in the grass and pretend we were in a car driving to the mall as a family, and for our young minds, pretending to be of driving age was a blast.

Katie Mather is a cosmetology student who was also born in 2003. She explained how growing up in today’s world is different because parents have to be more aware and strict when it comes to their children and how easily they can access social media. Children can find anything on social media no matter the parental controls put in place.

“It was nice growing up in the 2010s because of how new and fresh technology was becoming, and we were able to watch how fast it was improving without being addicted to it,” said Mather. 

Technology on a laptop. Picture by Luca Bravo on Unsplash.

Some of her favorite parts of growing up were swimming in any lake she could find and listening to the band One Direction. One Direction holds a special place in many 2010 kids’ hearts. 

Maddie Zalucky is an 18-year-old from Albany, New York. She was born in 2004 and her favorite part of growing up was just having fun and not having to worry about any adult responsibilities.

“If I could bring back anything from the 2010s it would definitely be the music, because in my opinion music from the 2010s was way better than it is now,” Zalucky said. 

She also explained that, when she was younger, she would spend so much time outside and going places, rather than sitting on a device inside all day. 

Similar to Zalucky, Angeline Pesta, a freshman at Manhattan College, born in 2004, reflects back on the simpler times of the 2010s and remembers the carefree fun she had.

“Everything felt so simple and there wasn’t any pressure on us from social media,” Pesta said. 

Pesta’s favorite part of her childhood was going camping with her family and watching Nickelodeon and Disney shows and movies. 

For Gen Z kids, hearing some of the popular pop music hits of the 2010s brings a wave of nostalgia every time. Some fan favorite artists include One Direction, Miley Cyrus, 5 Seconds of Summer, Big Time Rush, Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry 

Rachael Rivenburg is a freshman at SUNY Oneonta, born in 2004. The most treasured part of her childhood in the 2010s was learning about new music and TV trends from hanging out with friends, rather than through social media.

Social media icons. Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash.

“I think kids growing up now have been used to having electronics and being on social media from such a young age that they now compare themselves to others, and that can be harmful at any age,” Rivenburg said.

Growing up during this time period gave children a basic understanding of technology, through popular gaming systems like GameBoys, Wii’s, Playstations and Xboxes. We had knowledge of technology but we only really used it for fun and games, not consuming media like kids do now in 2023.

 The 2010s was such a nostalgic time and I wish we could go back to it and experience the simplicity of being a kid again. If I could choose one time to live through again, it would and always will be the 2010s.

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