10 signs you were a 2000s baby

Illustration of early 2000s trends
Betsy Siegal/Staff

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If you’re currently a UC Berkeley student, chances are you’re also a 2000s baby, i.e. you were born in the years 1999-2004. Nobody has the exact same childhood experience, but there are a few common cultural touchstones that those born in the early 2000s can relate to. Let the nostalgia begin! 

You experienced the Golden era of Disney Channel TV 

Growing up as a kid in the years 2007-12, cable television shows such as Disney Channel and Nickelodeon were the source of the majority of your entertainment. You were raised on shows such as “Hannah Montana,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “iCarly” and “Victorious.” Such characters, theme songs and plotlines are now memorialized in the back of our brains, and these sudden pangs of nostalgia serve as a reminder of the golden days of our childhoods. But Disney Channel wasn’t all about lighthearted entertainment. It also took initiative to promote positive values within its young viewers through shows such as “Pass the Plate,” which discussed healthy eating and multicultural cuisine, and “The Time I …,” which celebrated stories of different abilities and accomplishments.

You traded silly bands as currency

Kids around the country, including you, were obsessed with collecting and wearing these cheap, rubber band bracelets in a variety of funky colors and shapes. You could buy packs of Sillybandz based on different themes, such as zoo animals, pets, dinosaurs, princesses and alphabet letters, among others. The more Sillybandz you had encircling your arm, the cooler you were. But these bracelets weren’t just for decoration; you even used Sillybandz as a form of currency, trading a penguin and gold retriever band for a pack of skittles during recess.

You ate Gripz as a snack

Unless your family was super health conscious and didn’t allow any food that wasn’t certified organic, GMO-free and plant-based, you probably munched on a pack of Gripz Cheez-Its, Chips Ahoy or graham crackers during snack time. The mini-sized shapes made them easy to hold in your little hand and pop into your mouth when on the go.

A flip phone was your first phone

Kids these days get iPhones as their first phone, but your first phone wasn’t smart. All you could really do on your first phone was talk, text and take some of the blurriest pictures of your life. But hey, at least you gave your fingers a good workout typing on a keyboard with only nine keys. 

You played on your Nintendo DSi

Forget playing games on an iPhone or iPad, the Nintendo DSi was all the rage when you were a kid. This easily portable gaming console came with many different features other than just gaming — you could take photos, enter chat rooms, record sounds, listen to music and surf the web! Each DSi game resembled a memory chip that would fit snugly into the card reader at the back of the console. But these small little gaming cards could get easily lost in the crevices of a car seat or in the cracks of the sidewalk, attributing to a lot of your childhood woe and frustration. 

You burned CDs

Kids now make Spotify playlists to share with their friends, crushes or significant others, but back in the day, we had to purchase a pack of compact discs to upload music onto. Us 2000s babies understand the struggle of downloading song audio files onto a clunky Windows desktop and burning them to a CD. If only it were as simple as clicking “Add to playlist” and sharing a link on iMessage.

You went on Cool Math Games during school computer time 

In elementary school during computer lab time, you would giddily hop onto www.coolmathgames.com to entertain yourself and escape the drudgery of school with a variety of different games, very few of which actually exercised your mathematical acuity. If you were like me, your personal favorites were Poptropica, Crazy Taxi and Papa’s Pizzeria. Whether it be roaming around different islands to solve mysteries, testing your multiplication abilities while trying not to cause a car accident, or making pizzas to the satisfaction of virtual customers, Cool Math Games was our earliest form of escapism.

Taylor Swift was your Olivia Rodrigo

Sure, Olivia Rodrigo’s new album Sour is the perfect listen to channel your inner angsty teen or to blast on repeat after getting your heart broken, but back in the day, we 2000s babies had Taylor Swift’s Fearless album to get us through those rocky preteen years. “Drivers License,” “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U”? Try “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “You Belong with Me” and “Picture to Burn” instead.

You had an Instagram account when all you could do was post photos

Officially launched Oct. 6, 2010, some of Instagram’s youngest users were 2000s babies, giving us insight into the bare beginnings of the social media age. Today, Instagram has all sorts of new features such as direct messaging, stories, reels, an explore page, a shopping page, access to analytics data (if you switch to a professional account) and the option to hide your like count! But back when we were kids, Instagram was simply about casually posting pictures of things you thought were cool. Although many of the updates Instagram has made over the years have proven to boost engagement and make the user experience more entertaining, the app today is a far cry from the simplicity it once embodied. 

Spending all your money at the Scholastic Book Fairs

It was always a party when the Scholastic Book Fairs came to your school’s library. The portable shelves of shiny new books and other miscellaneous items such as Smencils, jelly pencil grips, key chains and Japanese erasers tempted you to splurge all of the money your parents gave you. You probably still have copies of “Captain Underpants,” “Guinness World Records” or one of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from the Scholastic Book Fairs lying somewhere in the abyss of your childhood bedroom.

As we enter a new chapter in our lives as young adults, may we always remember the carefree curiosity and jubilance of our youth. Although there’s no way to redo your childhood, we can look back on such happy moments with reverence and carry the same curiosity and awe into our adult years. 

Contact Madeleine Lorie at [email protected].