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How 1990s Teen Life and Teen Life Now Look Different

The Millennial generation now has kids. Millennials are those individuals born between 1981 and 1996. The oldest are over 40, while the youngest are in their late 20s.

Some Millennials who had kids early now have teenagers. They might tell their kids about how they had dramatically different lives in the 1990s when they were that age.

Let’s discuss how teens had it differently in the 1990s versus today.

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There’s Legal Recreational Marijuana Now in Some States

Marijuana usage by teens isn’t exactly new. It has gone on for decades. Recreational marijuana now has legal status in some states, though.

Some teens during the 90s smoked weed, and they faced constant police intimidation for it. Some smoked under bridges or in their basements. When the police caught them, they faced stiff penalties, even though they weren’t legally adults yet.

Some states have legal weed now, though teens can’t legally buy or use it. Still, they can get it more easily. A teen who feels curious might take their parent’s stash and try some. That accessibility makes 

this era and the 90s different.

Teens who try marijuana can get themselves into serious trouble with it. That was true in the 90s, and it’s true today.

If they have a driver’s license, they might smoke and drive. Reckless driving can bring vehicular assault charges, and a teen who smokes and drives might make a fatal mistake.

That’s why Millennials in legal weed states who now have teens should lock up their marijuana if they smoke recreationally. They must take this seriously, or a teen who experiments can mess up their life.

Trash TV

In the 90s, shows like Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake, and Geraldo Rivera brought teens trash TV. Reality TV didn’t exist very much yet. The show Cops popularized it, but mostly, networks played only scripted shows. The Real World also brought about a new TV show experience for viewers.

That gradually changed. Now, there’s reality TV everywhere. Teens these days grew up watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians and the many Real Housewives shows.

Teens accept reality TV a lot more now. They might not necessarily know about its origins, though.  


In the 90s, the UFC, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, first appeared. The concept shocked some conservative individuals. 

John McCain waged a war against the UFC. At that point, this pseudo-sport had no weight classes. The blood and violence made it an extremely controversial endeavor.

Gradually, in the intervening years, it has become more mainstream. Now, a teen who likes it can order a PPV and watch it on a Saturday night. 

The sport has major sponsors and even bigger faces and names, like Connor McGregor. Teens today might not understand this combat sport’s complicated history.

Online Gaming

In the 1990s, kids got all the quarters they could and hit the video arcade every Saturday. That doesn’t happen so much anymore.

Video arcades still exist, but you can’t find them as easily, and teens think they’re quaint and old-fashioned. Nowadays, they play MMORPGs online. They play with other teens and adults all around the world.

They can have real-time conversations that span different time zones. They can even play with online friends in other countries.

They take the graphic content and violence for granted. If they saw the primitive games from the 90s, they would feel those had laughably outdated graphics and gameplay.

Social Media

Social media has changed the teen landscape forever. In the 1990s, it did not exist yet. AOL chatrooms existed, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and all the others had not appeared yet.

Kids might have experienced bullying in school, but they certainly didn’t experience cyberbullying yet. It’s a serious problem that exists now, and some kids face depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts or ideations from it.

On the other hand, some teens love social media and have no issues using it. They just block anyone posting cruel content, and they spend their time sending each other memes. That’s an new behavior that didn’t exist in the 20th century.   


In the 90s, some teens smoked cigarettes. Their parents didn’t like it, but some did it because they wanted their friends to like and respect them.

These days, cigarettes aren’t cool anymore, but some teens vape. It’s a new activity that has taken over, though it’s no healthier.

Some things have changed for teens since the 90s, while others remain the same.

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