Made in the 90s: 17 of the Greatest Things About Growing up in the 90s

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Growing up in the 90s was, in a word — amazing. And many commenters in a popular online forum agree. I mean, c'mon, playing outside AND Nintendo. From the clothes to the music and the movies, to riding bikes to friends' houses and not coming home until the streetlights came on, the 90s was the best time to grow up.

1. The School Bus

Schoolbus Kids
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Back in the day, we used to ride on the big yellow school bus! These days, due to traumas in the school system, it's becoming rare to let kids ride on the bus unless the bus stops at every single house. 

2. Riding Bikes

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Remember riding bikes for fun? Well, some people still do, but back in the 90s', we used to get on our bikes after school and ride around for hours. Not a care in the world!

3. 90s Style (And It's Back in Style)

1990s phone fashion
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Cross stomach packs, flannel shirts, slip dresses, baggy jeans, and leather blazers — the 90s were indeed a statement. One forum member recalls the nostalgic style, remembering “neon color clothes, hyper color shirts, and slap bracelets.” Another contributor's strongest fashion memory in the early 90s was the iconic “hammer pants.”

Whatever your personal style, the 90s are a decade worthy of emulating.

4. Riding Bikes Everywhere

Couple riding bikes
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So many people remember the 90s as a time when bikes were the primary mode of transport. Whether riding bikes to school, the creek, or a friend's house, pedaling on the pavement made many commenters sentimental for the '90s. One 42-year-old who grew up in the 90s admits to still exploring by bike, only now, with an “occasional stop for beers.”

5. The Movies!

drive in movie theater
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In the 90s, there was “pretty much a defining hit movie every month or so,” one movie buff claims, and I couldn't agree more. There are so many 90s movie gems! Rom-coms, like Pretty Women and You've Got Mail, comedies, like Home Alone, and dramas, like Titanic, graced the screens and stole our hearts.

One individual claimed they “Still love watching a 90's movie; they made them different back then.”

6. Classic TV

The Brady Bunch
Image Credit: Redwood Productions, Paramount Television.

FrasierSeinfeldCheersThe Simpsons, and Murphy Brown were a few of the top shows in the 90s. But there are so many more TV hits that resonated with 90s kids. One individual singled out Nickelodeon, stating he always looked forward to Nick in the Afternoon. He specifically called out “Rockos Modern LifeDoug, Ren and StimpyLegends of the Hidden Temple Double DareHey DudeSalute Your Shorts, and the animated Beetlejuice.” 


Kids playing
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There's no doubt TV was popular in the 90s. In fact, according to numerous individuals in the forum, TV is one of the greatest things about growing up in the 90s. And Friday night TV hit differently. Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step by Step — 90s TGIF TV shows made (some) kids want to stay in on Friday nights. 

8. No Social Media

Social Media
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The pressure was off. At least online. One individual remarked about the detriment of social media for young ones, stating the thought of it in middle school gave them a “cold chill.” They further state that when they left school and went home in the 90s, they were safe. “Now it feels like kids who aren't so popular just aren't ever safe because they carry that whole world around in their pocket. It's inescapable.”

9. Music We All Still Love

Listening to music
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Destiny's Child, Spice Girls, Oasis, TLC, No Doubt! So many 90s anthems from various bands made forum group commenters nostalgic for their favorite decade. The 90s brought us so many unforgettable singles. From grunge and rap to dance, pop, and punk — it's fair to say we're all still listening.

10. Developing a Disposable Camera

Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Rept0n1x.

Oh, the excitement! Vintage selfies are much more fun when you can't keep retaking them until you look cute. Dropping the film off at the drugstore, waiting until it was ready to be picked up, and then opening that envelope to unveil memories in tangible form — what a practice in patience that today's 2000s kids will never experience.

 11. Playing Outside

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One of the most prevalent memories of the 90s, playing outside nowadays seems a thing of the past. Commenters shared memories of “neighborhood friends all getting their lawnmowers to cut out a baseball field from a field of grass for home run derby.” They also shared about “playing capture the flag until the sun went down,” and “swimming at the neighborhood pool all day every day during the summertime.”

12. Nintendo

Super Dodge Ball NES
Image Credit Nintendo.

Every kid in the 90s either had a Nintendo or wanted a Nintendo. It was a part of life. We all spent significant time playing Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, and all the other classic games.

One individual explains growing up in the 90s perfectly: “You go outside and play with your friends and then come home and fire up Nintendo.”

13. Beepers

Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Museum Rotterdam.

This is an odd one, but so many 90s kids in the forum remembered beepers. Some claim they used a beeper to receive a number and call them back from a pay phone. Others used pages to communicate by code, a shorthand for common expressions popular with kids. The best part — there's no way parents could decipher the convoluted messages. 1 70113 743 905 = I Love The 90s.

14. No Cell Phones

Displeased Old Lady
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Cell phones are such a modern convenience. I couldn't imagine living without one now. But many people comment that one of the most incredible things about growing up in the 90s was NOT having a cell phone.

“I loved not having a phone,” one person said. “I didn't like talking on the phone, but my friends always would call my home phone to talk. I would always tell my parents to say I was busy or something. When people started getting cell phones, I waited as long as I could to finally get one. I didn't want people to be able to reach me so easily.”

15. Blockbuster

blockbuster video
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Renting movies in the 90s was quite the event. One 90s kid remembers “walking around Blockbuster, carefully trying to pick a new release,” which you were allowed to keep for up to five days. If you picked well, there was plenty of time to watch the movie twice before returning.

Another kid who grew up in the 90s adds that young ones “learned delayed gratification because everything took time,” like waiting for new movies to come out at Blockbuster.

16. MTV

Editorial illustrative. In this photo illustration a MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone
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The 90s saw “MTV owning up to its namesake,” as one music lover comments. The Music Television Channel was popular in the 80s and mid-90s and greatly impacted popular music and style. Some popular videos worth re-watching are the Beastie Boys' “Sabotage,” Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Weezer's “Buddy Holiday.”

17. You've Got Mail

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“Dialing into the internet was such a wild experience in those first years. It really did feel so exciting,” one contributor comments. And many more agree, like one individual who claims the 90s were the peak of human civilization. “We had enough technology to improve and augment our lives, but not so much that it took over our lives.”

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Nicole is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. As a former professional athlete, she gravitates toward active vacations, but also loves a great luxury hotel (The Palace Hotel in San Francisco is her favorite). In addition to travel writing, Nicole has published pieces about sports, parenting, entertainment, art, technology, and law. When she's not writing, she can be found reading a good book, hiking around the Bay Area with her son, trying to train their 70 lb. puppy, or watching reruns of I Love Lucy.