BamaCarol, I like your point regarding "need" vs. "want." I'm forever saying to my kids, when they want something, "Do you know the difference between need and want?!"
Oh, they do, but the peer pressure to have what other kids have, to be able to participate in conversations and identify with them is great. Not that it hasn't always been. But today what people tend to have are expensive electronics - the kind we're all using right now, for instance!
In this world, though, it's hard to imagine living without computers and the internet. And, from there, comes buying DSL or a cable modem. If your business or favorite pastimes are online, then you "need" a laptop and/or smart phone so it's portable and can travel with you. And so on and so on...
My parents were born in the mid-1930s and grew up in relative poverty in rural Mississippi. If you needed something you had to save and children didn't have all the toys my own kids grew up with. They had to live with something my kids almost never feel - boredom. I could go on and on about how important periods of boredom are, how connected to creativity, learning to make your own fun. From that come innovative ideas, or those prone to coming up with them.
Each generation has more than the generation before. Or so it's been so far. Makes you wonder what will happen should that bubble ever pop, sending us all back a few generations. It's possible this particular discussion question may be more than theoretical someday.