Before Television: Childhood

Before Television by Family Tree Video

If you were born in the last 40 years, it might be difficult to imagine life before television, computers and cell phones. Modern technology is such an integral part of our life that we panic if the power goes out, misplace our phone or lose an internet connection.

So what did our parents and grandparents do before modern technology was so prevalent? What did children do after school, on weekends and on over the summer break?

Below are a few ways in which our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents spent their free time.

Before Television

Unstructured Play
One of the biggest differences between today’s children and when our grandparents were young is found in where most of their time was spent. Instead of glued to a television or computer screen, children went outside to play. Back then, there weren’t as many cars on the road as there are today so children often played in the street without fear. Kick-the-Can, Hop Scotch, roller skating, marbles and such.

For a list of activities and games children played in the 1930’s, visit my post: ‘1930’s Games’.

It may surprise you, but before television took off, radio was the medium of choice. Not just with music stations and talk shows, radio shows captured the hearts and minds of generations with the radio drama. The Lone Ranger, Abbott & Costello and Dick Tracy to name a few.

One of the most famous examples of the power of the radio drama was the 1938 performance of the H.G. Wells classic War of the Worlds. It was so impressive that listeners actually believed there was a real alien invasion from Mars!

For a list of popular radio shows in the 1930’s, visit my post: ‘1930’s Radio Shows’.

Reading and Writing
Back then, there was also a greater emphasis on the written word than there is now. Reading and writing were much more valued and children often spent hours snuggled up with a good book or writing long letters to distant friends or family members.

All in all it was a more dynamic and healthy way to spend one’s childhood. It showed children the world itself, not an image of the world projected onto a screen. While it’s important to keep pace with progress, there are always lessons we can learn from the past.

For questions to ask your parents or grandparents to learn more about their life story, check out my post: ‘Life Story Interview Questions’.

~ Legacy Videos ~

Give your parent or grandparent the gift of a lifetime by capturing their life story in a Legacy Video!

Legacy Videos by Family Tree Video

Here at Family Tree Video we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed interview with a parent or grandparent together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia. The result is a beautiful “moving portrait” capturing your loved one as they recount their life story, family history and memories – a gift your family will treasure for generations to come.

Your stories are too important to leave to memory. To learn more about capturing them in a Legacy Video, visit us at

Family Tree Video LLC
Legacy Video Production
Since 2008

Susan Saunders
(312) 402-6406

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“There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children.
One is roots, and the other, wings.” — H. S. Carter

Before Television

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3 thoughts on “Before Television: Childhood”

  1. I’m 72 y.o. I well remember having a TV with only one broadcasting station on it. That was in the 1950s. Because of that, we didn’t watch much TV. And even in the early ’60s we still had only three stations. And because of that, we went out and played. Saturdays I would meet up with my friends and we hiked up in the woods as much as three miles one-way, automatically knew what time it was by the sun (we didn’t have a watch), and we would head back home in time for dinner.
    Wonderful memories.
    Thanks for this page!


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