Education & Training

Do Children Have It Harder or Easier Than Previous Generations?

Published on 15th April 2023.

Take a look around the world today and you will see how technology has made our lives easier, in many ways than ever before. If you want groceries, something to eat, or just a conversation with others, it is at the touch of a button. It is easy to take for granted how advanced technology has become, but one glaring question that plagues our world is the notion that previous generations had it so much harder than current ones. We will look at the old and new generations to determine who, in fact has it harder.

Child Labor

The notion of child labor in today’s society is a completely outdated and even considered an abusive ideology. However, child labor was actually the norm 100 years ago. It was not uncommon to see children working in factories, fields, and anywhere else adults might find employment. Where it seems harsh, and it actually was, families were larger in those days and anyone that was able to work, was made to do it.

Thankfully, the Fair Labor Act of 1938 made it federally illegal to employ children in most avenues of employment. There were some exceptions to the law including child actors, farm work, and being employed in a family run business. Although this was only for the United States, it shed light on the fact that children needed to enjoy their childhood and not contend with the hazards of working.

Child Labor Laws

Even though child labor laws made a federal mandate, you have to consider the fact that even after the laws were enacted, families were large. Once children were not allowed to work, parents often left older children at home with younger ones, so they could still provide for the family unit. Therefore, the children still had to work hard taking care of little ones, cooking, and cleaning in many instances, so the work never actually stopped.

Economic Demands of Today

Although there are always exceptions to the rule, it is rare that children under the age of 15 have a job outside the home. Even those that do seek employment are not required to provide money to the running of a home. Generally, teenagers get jobs so they can pay for their phones, cars, and anything else they desire. Parents can work upwards 3 or 4 jobs at a time to provide enough income to meet the demands of their household. You will rarely find, especially in America, a parent relying on their teenager for financial support. Again, there are exceptions to this rule.

So, in this instance, it is clear that previous generations of children had a much more difficult time as they had to provide for the family unit, but work is only a fraction of life, so let us look at something else.


In short, there was very little technology until the late 70s. Before the invention of the game console and computers, children played outside, rode bikes, and generally ran around their neighborhood with friends.

Today’s generation knows little of what it was like to leave the house in the morning and come home when the street lights came on, but that does not mean everything is easy.

As a generation of the 80s and 90s we may claim children are lazy these days, but take a moment and put yourself in a child’s shoes once again and add technology. In those days we could run endlessly without much threat of being caught on camera for anything we did. However, today, everyone has a phone with a camera and stepping out of line, even remotely, or messing up can lead to your image being broadcast for the world to see. It’s actually a frightening thought as an awkward teen.

Children and Technology

The Mental State of Children

One of the main issues children face today is mental issues. Most of us from older generations did not even consider anything but playing outside and enjoying life as a child. Today, kids contend with cyber bullying, increased education demands, and the threat of becoming internet famous, in a negative way. They are under unbelievable pressure to act right, make good grades, and be popular.

The primary problem often stems from the fact that children are in a constant state of receiving information. From the time they wake up and turn on their mobile devices, they are seeing images and receiving information. It can be exhausting to say the least. It is also not all about seeing things they do not need to see at such a young age.

Children’s Mental Health

Mobile technology has been around long enough for us to discover the negative affects it has on the mind of a child. Overstimulation by devices has been linked to attention issues, lack of creativity, language development delays, and even low academic performance.

So, Who Has Had More Difficulties?

The truth is, every generation has their struggles. Where generations past may have had to perform more physical labor through work, chores, and household duties, kids today have to contend with the mental stresses of too much information.

No matter what generation you grew up in, it is essential that we utilize what positive ideals we have taken from our generation without emphasizing the bad. Instead of preaching to this new generation about being lazy or unmotivated, take them out to a ball game or better yet, throw the ball with them outside. Teach them something whether it is how to cook, a vital skill, or just spend time talking. You will be surprised what you have in common if you just take the initiative.

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