No App for That! A Parent’s Guide to Explaining Simpler Times

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Feb 9, 2016

From online shopping to on-demand video, our lifestyles have evolved drastically over the last couple decades from simple pleasures to instant gratification and handheld convenience. As a new mom, I often find myself wondering how I’ll ever explain life pre-iPhone to my children; it sounds borderline unconscionable even as I type!

I rely on technology as much as the next person, but I’m still nostalgic for a simpler time before social media governed our lives and things weren’t handed to us on a smartphone silver platter.

Below are just some examples of the bygone era we adults once enjoyed, I wish you luck as you try and describe them to your kids!


Who remembers the Dewey Decimal System? If you answered yes – congratulations! You’re old.

Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when ‘Googling It’ wasn’t an option and these ancient edifices known as Libraries housed all the available research on a particular subject. Mind-blowing, I know!

Video Rental

Just for the fun of it, try explaining to your child how you once left the comfort of your couch to rent a movie, only to realize that your first choice was out of stock and you had to settle for second best.

Report back on their dumbfounded look as they come to terms with a world before Netflix.

Home Phones

What do you mean there was only one phone line for the entire house and everyone shared it?” I can practically hear the horror in your teenager’s voice as you explain this wildly outrageous concept.

Snail Mail

Back in the day, people used actual paper to send notes back and forth in a process that also involved walking to a mailbox. Mail that was sent it off on a Wednesday usually arrived circa the following Friday.

Your kids are probably Snapchatting their friends right now about how prehistoric and strange you are.

Milk Delivery

They’ll flip out when they hear there was such a thing as home delivery by someone other than!


Once upon a time, there was completely separate device used to take photos that you couldn’t also use to call your best friend and play Angry Birds. Inside this gadget was something called film, a sheet of plastic with a finite number of images that had to be developed and printed in a process that took about a week; is their mind blown yet? Wait until they find out there was no Instagram!

For all the conveniences of technology, I’m grateful to have been raised in an era before anyone uttered the phrase “there’s an app for that.” I maintain there’s nothing more gratifying than getting a piece of handwritten mail and no replacement for a photo you can put in a frame. We can’t stop the world from moving forward, but every so often we can take a (humorous) look back on what once was and bring our kids in on the far-fetched tale of a much simpler time.


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