22 Things That Were Part Of Growing Up In The ’80s That Are Practically Illegal Today (And Some That Actually Are)

The world has changed drastically since we were kids. While technology and the Internet has definitely been a big part of why growing up today is so different, that’s not the only change that’s happened. In a lot of ways, the ’80s were just a simpler time, and some things that we were totally cool with, or at least willing to overlook, would probably get us arrested today. Here are the things we grew up with that would never fly today.

Totally non-existent car safety

How else were you going to learn how to drive?
Safety standards are a lot more intense now than they were 30 to 40 years ago. Back then a lot of safety regulations were less like rules and more like mild suggestions. Suggestions that most people just ignored. Like remember sitting in the middle of the front seat? That way you could not only control the radio, but also guarantee that if you crashed you’d be getting a faceful of dashboard.

No airbag? No problem!
Or what about those awesome seats in the back of the station wagon that we’d always fight over while on family road trips?

Instead of a faceful of dashboard, you’d get a face-full of back window
And of course these questionable seating choices were made more fun (and dangerous, I guess) by the fact that seat belts were treated as entirely optional.

Seat belts would just get in the way of our fun, anyway
And while car seats did exist, they were also treated as mostly optional.

Better this than just laying on someone’s lap, I guess.
Riding in the bed of a pickup truck

So long as we don’t hit any giant bumps it’ll be fine. Probably.
If you grew up in the country then you definitely did this at one point or another. There was just something so wonderful about feeling the wind blowing through your hair while lounging with your friends, though if the road was super bumpy there was a small part of you that worried you’d get bounced right out of the truck.

Getting left in the car while your parents go into a store

What could be better than a refreshing nap in a hot car?
Trying to wrangle kids while you’re running errands can be an absolute nightmare, so sometimes our parents would just make us wait in the car. We could always just roll down a window and the doors were usually unlocked, but it still wasn’t a great idea.

Being totally unreachable

No, they probably didn’t.

In the days before cell phones it wasn’t unusual for us to leave the house having only told our parents that we’d be back by dinner (or dark, even). As far as they were concerned, we basically fell off the face of the Earth until we either came home or called from a payphone to get picked up from where ever we’d ended up.

Sometimes we had to get creative.
Wikimedia Commons
Secondhand smoke

Except they didn’t really need signs because you could smoke basically wherever
USA Today
Sometimes it seems like basically everyone in the ’80s smoked. Secondhand smoke was just something everyone had to live with and not many people were really worried about it or exposing their kids to it. Most kids were smoking anyway, so I guess getting it secondhand didn’t matter much.

If this was happening in 1993, then you can imagine what the ’80s would have been like…
20th Century Fox
Biking without a helmet

Why would we want to cover up our glorious hair?

Bike helmets just…weren’t really a thing. Neither were elbow or knee pads when it came to stuff like roller skating. At least it forced us to be extra careful and aware when we were riding around.

…or not.
Being a latchkey kid

Hey, at least the door was locked.
How Stuff Works
Adults were busy working and doing stuff, so it was just easier for us to be able to let ourselves in when we got home from school. And if you had younger siblings, chances are you’d be the one in charge of keeping them alive ’til your parents got home.

Babysitting wasn’t anything like Baby-Sitters Club led us to believe
Columbia Pictures
As far as our parents were concerned, if you were old enough to be able to dial “911” then you were old enough to be responsible for younger kids.

Buying cigarettes and alcohol for your parents

Seems legit.
Again, adults were busy people, so if they didn’t have time to run to the store to pick up the essentials, they’d send us off with some cash (or even a signed blank check) and a note for the cashier. And no one ever questioned it.

Giving kids beer for fun

What better way to celebrate your first birthday than by cracking open a cold one with the boys.
Considering how laid back most people were about smoking, it’s not surprising that alcohol would be any different. It’s not like we actually enjoyed it when we were that young anyway.

Ok, maybe SOME of us did…
Showing up unannounced

Sometimes the easiest way to see if your friends were home and wanted to hang out was to just go knock on their door. Because if you tried calling you might have to *gasp* talk to their parents.

But that wasn’t the only thing we did at other people’s houses that would be impossible today.

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