How many times have you seen children who can’t disconnect from their phone, whether they’re your own or league members you coach or mentor? Many children and young adults these days are heavily dependent on technology, and it’s pretty obvious as to why. We’re ready to admit ourselves that smartphones can be simultaneously great ways to stay organized and massive time sinks – but the problem truly arises when we rely on them too much.

Youth sports can be a solution for children who are tech dependent. It’s not about permanently getting them off their Galaxy phone or iPad, but instead about giving them the opportunity to take a mental break from their small screen gadgets and gizmos.

No Tech Zones

Have you ever seen a soccer player texting in the goalie box? Or how about a baseball player Snapchatting from home plate? No, and the reason why is obvious – when you’re on the field, there’s no time to worry about technology.

Many coaches have a “no phones” policy when it comes to practices. A child can use their phone while still in their parent’s or guardian’s car, but once they’re suited up and practice has started, cell phones are a big no-no. Coaches know phones are a big distraction, and they’re also likely to get damaged while the child is on the field. It’s a good idea to make phones prohibited even during practice breaks.

Socializing Opportunities On the Field

Most coaches really like to push the idea of teamwork onto league players very early on. Even if two girls or boys aren’t friends at school, they need to be friends while they’re on the field. They tell players to picture a sports team like a family that has to work together to head towards success. If players are too busy on their phones during practice or breaks, they don’t actually take advantage of these in-person bonding opportunities.

This is an especially important time for players who don’t know each other outside of their sports league interactions. Because phones and other technologies are prohibited during practice, a child can connect with these players and others without tech distractions and interference.

Children Will be Better for It

Dependence on technology can bring about a litany of both social and medical problems. Issues like carpel tunnel and eyesight problems can come with focusing too hard on a screen or holding a phone for extended periods of time for years. When children rely too much on technology in order to interact with others, they miss out on important in-person socialization experiences.

There is also an issue of headaches and mental fog in regards to technology. Using technology for prolonged periods of time can cause cluster headaches and vision fatigue, while the content absorbed online leads to a short attention span. The more children disconnect with these habits, the more time they have to reset their brain and gain more focus.

Smartphones and technology aren’t inherently bad – but that doesn’t mean we need to let children become addicted. Promote phone breaks and push athletes to focus more on sports so they spend much needed time away from their technologies.