Kids these days seem to be attached to their smartphones. They’re spamming Instagram, Kiking with a friend or texting a classmate about school gossip – modern children are practically addicted to mobile technology. Adults can obviously see the appeal, but many also socialize outside of their cellphones. Children are often delegated some in-person social time at school, but it’s straight to their smartphone once they get back home.

This is a problem for many reasons. While it’s up to a parent whether or not their child should have a phone, we can all agree that a child’s socializing shouldn’t be delegated to a cell phone. Prolonged use of mobile technology can cause short-term eye problems, limited social skills and headaches.

What’s the solution? We believe youth sports may be the answer.

Immediate Socialization

While “teamwork” is often something associated with sports, many don’t consider just how social sports leagues really are. Team members spend a lot of time together on the field and during practice, and there’s a reason for this. Cohesive, friendly teams that know each other are more likely to work well together. Sports require a lot of planning, forethought and synergy, and this is accomplished by setting up bonding scenarios for team members.

Smartphones are also likely prohibited by coaches during practices and games. Some coaches go so far as to ban them during practice breaks in order to make team members interact outside of their technology – face to face and in real time.

Real People, Real Scenarios

Without getting into the parenting politics of letting children build online friendships, say that a child has an online BFF that lives a few states away from them. This friend may be a great person, but their only methods of communicating are through texting, social media and phone calls.

Children who facilitate friendships online more than they do in real life will find that their whole social calendar sucks them further into smartphone and technology addiction. Youth sports friends, however, are real life people – which means fun activities like sleepovers, movie nights and other in-person entertainment that break them away from their phones for a few hours.

Sports Can Build Lasting Bonds and Friendships

If a child continues league and/or school sports through high school, they’re very likely to get to know their teammates on an even more intimate level. They grow up with each other, and this builds bonds that are much harder to break the more they solidify. Middle and high school can be tricky times for adolescents, but sports team friendships can become everlasting and these relationships can be supportive outside of school drama and teenage emotions.

In fact, many high school sports players find that they remember their teammates more than other classmates, and they can also be more likely to pursue the friendships outside of high school. Ask high school sports players you know whether or not they still connect with ex-teammates and they’ll likely answer positively.

Children don’t have to be completely ostracized from online socializing, but it’s healthy for children to get out and face peers in person. Friendships that are built within a team are incredibly strong, so let your child experience this incredible bonding opportunity.