15 '90s Kid Status Symbols, Because Having Your Own Phone Line Was The Ultimate Privilege
Each generation has its own set of status symbols, and the '90s are no different. '90s kid status symbols, though? I would argue that they were far more entertaining than anything the adults had. Are status symbols kind of silly? Of course. But that often doesn't stop us from basking their glory anyway, because the materialism is strong in… well, most of us. We like our creature comforts, and it's fun to play with shiny new toys.
A few things to note: First, most of these '90s kid status symbols were most applicable for children roughly under the age of 12; second, some of them still are status symbols; third, some of them may have evolved over the years and become something new to later generations; and fourth, not all status symbols are material goods. This last point is perhaps the most interesting to me; being allowed to hit the mall with your friends and no adults to watch you was just as coveted as having Lunchables in your lunch box — and, I would argue, even more so. Lunchables are fleeting, but knowing that you're considered responsible enough to buy butterfly clips at Claire's unsupervised is forever.
Here 15 of the most memorable '90s kid status symbols I longed for as a child. Got any to add?
1. Your Own Phone Line
Because everyone aspired to be like Claudia Kishi, Kelly Kapowski, and every other fictional teen from the '90s that also had their own phone line.
2. A Beeper
I'll admit that I'm unclear on why anyone who wasn't an adult would need a beeper — but then again, I'm still trying to figure out why 10-year-olds need their own smartphones, so maybe that's just my old fogey-ness showing through.
3. A Curfew After 10 p.m.
Or even no curfew whatsoever.
4. A TV in Your Room
Bonus points if it also had cable, a VCR, a Nintendo, or all of the above.
5. Being Allowed to Go to the Mall By Yourself
Or the movies. Or anywhere, really. As long as you were unchaperoned, that's all that mattered.
And while we're on the subject…
6. Being Allowed To Date
Of course, if you were in middle school in the '90s, being allowed to “date” was more or less the same thing as being allowed to go to the movies by yourself, since most middle school “dates” consisted of the same activities you did with your friends, just with more handholding… but whatever. It was still a big deal.
7. A Kickin' Stereo
Did it have a CD player, a radio, and a tape deck? Did you have some killer speakers to go with it, including a subwoofer that made the whole house shake? Congratulations: You had the ultimate '90s stereo. Well played.
8. An American Girl Doll
Yes, we loved them. Yes, they were of wonderfully high quality. Yes, they were educational. But they were still (and are to this day) monstrously expensive. Having one of them with all the trimmings was the '90s kid equivalent of having a luxury car — and having more than one of them? That was like having a whole garage full of luxury cars.
9. Unsupervised Computer Time
To be fair, a lot of us who grew up with unsupervised computer time probably have our parents' lack of knowledge about the way computers work to thank for it — but hey, at least it prepared us for a world in which computers are a huge, daily part of our existence, right?
10. Unfettered Internet Access
It meant that your parents trusted you enough to navigate the wilds of the nascent Internet on your own. How grown up of you!
11. And Your Own AOL Screen Name
No logging in under your parents' boring screen name for you, Sp4rkL3s4eva!
12. Power Wheels
If you were under the age of nine, having a Power Wheels vehicle was as good as having an actual car.
13. Retired or “Rare” Beanie Babies
"They'll be worth something someday! I promise!", said every '90s kid ever.
14. LA Lights by LA Gear Shoes
These days, I think the equivalent is those “Heelie” shoe things I see all the kids wearing.
15. Any or All of the Following Things in Your Lunch Box
Including, but not limited to: Lunchables, Fruit by the Foot, Dunkaroos, Sprinklin's yogurt, String Thing, Shark Bites, Handi-Snacks, Gushers, Squeezits, Fruit Roll-Ups, Capri Sun, etc.