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Kids attempt to use rotary phone, confusion ensues

Watch a new generation of phone users try to figure out rotary phones, dial tones, and busy signals. This "Kids React" video from The Fine Brothers promises to make you feel ancient.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

It wasn't too long ago that rotary phones and pay phones were standard ways to communicate. You'd wait for a dial tone and then make your call. And if you got a busy signal, you'd hang up the phone and try later. There was no call waiting. No texting. No smiley-face emojicons.

In the latest "Kids React" video by new-media production duo Benny and Rafi Fine -- also known as The Fine Brothers -- kids and teens attempt to not only use a rotary phone, but try to figure out how to text on one. And fail.

"We've been making this series now for over three years and near 100 episodes," Benny Fine told Crave. "We've always found inside of a lot of the subject matter the reality of things that seem so recent being completely foreign to the next generation...and this was an evolution to that concept."

In the video "Kids React to Rotary Phones," kids ages 5 to 13 were asked to operate the phone without being instructed how to use it beforehand.

While the Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone toy, which was introduced to the toy market in 1962, still remains the most popular "rotary" phone, it's surprising that many of the kids in the video had no idea how to use a rotary phone at all.

"Everyone knew it was a phone, but did not realize how it worked," Fine said. "The kids not realizing they had to pick up the receiver before dialing was pretty amazing to see. Same with not knowing about busy signals or pay phones. We're so old!"

"The fact one of them said they know what it is because they have a toy of it," Fine added. "Pretty incredible to see once state-of-the-art technology be known as a toy."

One of the highlights of the video is when the kids are asked to text using the rotary phone and stare at the device in complete confusion. After attempting to use the letters on the dials, or Morse code, they realize texting isn't possible on the rotary phone in front of them.

"If you wanted to talk to your friends... oh that's how you'd call," Brooke-Monae, age 8, says.