25 Things That Were A Part Of Life Growing Up But That Might Get You Thrown In Jail Today

The 80s were a magical time. Rife with permed hair, fluorescent clothing, and pretty much the best cartoons ever, the 80s were definitely one of the best times to be a kid. Kids in the 80s had a lot more freedom, and organizations weren’t so keen on controlling parents’ every move. While I understand that most of these modern regulations were probably put in place for safety reasons, sometimes I can’t help but think they seem a little too stern. After taking a brief blast to the past, we’ve collected 25 things from the 80s that you’d definitely get arrested for now.


It’s not that people in the 80s were totally ignorant to environmentalism. For the most part though, we just didn’t care. Environmental decay seemed like something reserved for the distant future—if it would even happen at all. Plus, as Throwbacks aptly mentions, “Recycling was only something those dirty hippies did.”

The Chive/Throwbacks
Source: The Chive/Throwbacks

Being a Latchkey Kid

Back in the 80s adults were busy with adult stuff, so most of us just walked home from school, unlocked the door, and hung out at home until they got back in. The oldest kid always got the short end of the stick though, pretty much being deemed the new babysitter for life.

How Stuff Works/Throwbacks
Source: How Stuff Works/Throwbacks

Having a Waterbed

Back in the 80s, a waterbed was pretty much what separated you from the conservative bores. Laying on one of these and feeling the motion of the water was relaxing as Hell, I have to admit. “Flotation sleep” was the thing of the future. Or, at least that’s what they told us. Nowadays though, I’d be pretty leery of any creep who said they had one of these sitting in their bedroom…

Mental Floss/Throwbacks
Source: Mental Floss/Throwbacks

Giving Kids Beer Just for Laughs

C’mon. I know I’m not the only one who has a photo like this. Back in the 80s, giving your little one a sip of beer for their birthday was pretty much considered a rite of passage. Back then, it just for laughs. Nowadays, you’d be saying goodbye to little Suzie after a quick visit from CPS…

Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks
Source: Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks

Holding Gendered Classes

While we still have classes like home economics, parenting and woodshop, back in the 80s, most of these were restricted to a specific sex. Are you a girl who wants to go work some wood? Too freakin’ bad, grab a pan. This boy wants to cook? I sure as shit don’t think so.

Source: NBC/Throwbacks

Riding a Bike With No Helmet

Back in the 80s, bike helmets weren’t really a thing. If we fell off our bikes, best believe we were gonna feel every single bump and scratch. Same with kneepads and rollerblading. We were all miniature Evil Knievels.

Source: generations/Throwback

Bringing PB&J to School for Lunch

It honestly makes me sad that something as wholesome as PB&J has been banned from our classrooms. Yeeees, I get it. People with allergies could die. But did peanut allergies suddenly just develop in the new millennium? Kids were eating peanut butter at school for as long as I can remember, and I wish we could figure out a way to bring that back.

Smoking Anywhere & Everywhere

Smoking and the 80s go together like… Well, like peanut butter and jam. And if you didn’t smoke, that was just too bad— you were getting the secondhand smoke buffet whether you liked it or not.

USA Today/Throwbacks
Source: USA Today/Throwbacks

Hanging out at the Mall

Anyone who was anyone in the 80s could be found hanging out in the mall. Nope, I didn’t say shopping or browsing— just hanging out. The mall was the social meet-up place of the time. And if you were really lucky, you and your friends would be able to pool enough change to split some fries and a soda.

Today's Parent
Source: Today's Parent

Throwing Bikes Wherever

Streets in the 80s were constantly littered with piles of bikes. Sure, if you were on the hunt for your friends, this made them really easy to find— but looking back, it was also a good way to get your bike stolen.

Source: Source.me.me/Throwbacks

Putting Fake Wood Panels On Everything

Although it’s kind of a leftover from the 70s, fake wooden panels have become synonymous with 1980s design. The paneling itself looks just as bad now as it did back then— but somehow, back then we truly believed this looked awesome.

Wikimedia Commons/Throwbacks
Source: Wikimedia Commons/Throwbacks

Drinking and Driving

We all know drinking and driving is a serious crime that should never be indulged in. But back in the 80s, it really wasn’t considered as bad as it is now. It wasn’t rare to see someone cracking a cold one on the road while driving, and heck, even if you were stopped, the cop would probably just pour it out and send you along anyways.

Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks
Source: Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks

Driving Dangerously

While we’re on the subject of drinking and driving, general car safety should probably be mentioned. Back in our day, car safety laws weren’t so much laws as they were suggestions. And, if the rest of this list is any indication, you already know that we pretty much ignored those too.

Source: izismile/Throwbacks

Seeing Violence and Nudity in PG Movies

Because the PG-13 rating didn’t exist until 1984, most PG movies prior to that time were loaded with softcore nudity and violence. Luckily, people noticed the gap between the ratings may have been a bit too wide, and only a small subset of us was irreversibly damaged as a result.

Paramount Pictures/Throwbacks
Source: Paramount Pictures/Throwbacks

Climbing Trees

Back in the day, climbing a tree was the only way to really settle a King of the Castle debate. Nowadays, we have a generation of helicopter parents and lawyers talking about liability issues. What a sad, sad world this is.

Wild About Trees
Source: Wild About Trees

Being Unreachable

In the modern era of technology, we are pretty much always able to contact our child. Thirty years ago, however, cell phones hadn’t been invented yet, and we were pretty much sent outside to fend for ourselves. Sure, we told our parents we were going to the park, but they didn’t know we had actually biked 12 blocks across town the arcade.

FOX5 NY/Throwbacks
Source: FOX5 NY/Throwbacks

Playing Outside Unsupervised

Now that I think of it, back in the 80s, none of us were supervised. Somehow, we didn’t seem to have the big crimes and predators you hear about now. If you were playing outside as a kid in the 80s, theres a 99.73847% chance that your parents were not accompanying you.

Showing Up Unannounced

With social media and cell phones at our constant disposal, it’s kind of rude to just show up at someone’s house without warning. Back in the 80s though, this was pretty much the norm. Parents were the ones using the phone and instant messaging did not exist. If you wanted to see if your friend was home, you had one option: walk to their house on your own goddamn legs.

Source: Giphy

Chicken Pox Party

Before we had the power of effective vaccines at our disposal, to prevent children from dying from chickenpox, parents pretty much loaded them into a room with a bunch of other nasty, sick babies and hoped their kid would catch it now instead of dying it from it as later. Because nothing says ‘I love you’ like an infectious disease.

20th Century Fox/Throwbacks
Source: 20th Century Fox/Throwbacks

Riding in the Back of the Truck

This was more common amongst country folk, but I’m willing to bet the vast majority of 80s kids rode in the back of a truck at one point or another. As mentioned, car safety wasn’t really a thing yet. Plus without social media and the internet at our disposal, if somebody did die from it, we would never even know…

Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks
Source: Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks

Engaging in Corporal Punishment

Back before we had positive parenting and ‘My Child is a Snowflake” mothers, most parents strongly believed that sparing the rod spoiled the child. Corporal punishment and a little spank here and there really weren’t seen as a cause for alarm. Heck, realistically your parents were the easy ones— it was the teachers’ paddles you needed to avoid.

20th Century Fox/Throwbacks
Source: 20th Century Fox/Throwbacks

Playing “Dangerous” Games

In the 80s, kids spent a large portion of their time playing games like dodgeball, kickball, tag, and Red Rover. These games were fun; and sure you got a ball the face every once in a while, but you didn’t hear us complaining. Nowadays, you can’t even whip a dodgeball at a friend without the Health Department of New York preaching about “significant injury”.
Snowflakes. Snowflakes everywhere.

Source: muggphoto/Pinterest


Buying Cigarettes and Booze for Your Parents

As mentioned, adults in the 80s were too busy with adult stuff to have to be bothered with small chores, like buying cigarettes and booze. This is why kids got sent, usually with a note and some money, to the Ma and Pop shop for that super healthy pack of Marlboros.


Waiting in the Car While Your Parents Shop

I can honestly say that I’ve spent many of my childhood hours sitting in my mom’s car while I waited for her to do groceries. To be fair, this was mostly my choice; grocery shopping with my mom was boring as Hell. Still, looking back, I can’t believe that people didn’t see a problem with this.

Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks
Source: Mommy Shorts/Throwbacks

Carrying a Pocketknife to School

With groups like the Boy Scouts still being extremely popular, most kids in the 80s (boys, at least) carried pocketknives on ’em like nobody’s business. Surprisingly, we also didn’t hear about students going crazy and trying to murder hundreds of their peers.
Kind of makes you wonder…

Knives Ship Free
Source: Knives Ship Free

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(h/t): Throwbacks

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