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My Teens Prefer Phones to Real Life and I’m Trying to Understand

My three teens begged me to bring them to the soccer game on Friday night. It was a last minute thing and I’d already removed my bra—which is usually a hard no for me. After giving it some thought and looking down at my thermal pajamas, I decided, why not? The season is short and they want to hang out with their friends, which is better than staying in with their smartphones all night.

I was also thinking it would be good to get out of my lazy Friday night routine. Going to a game to mingle with other adults would be good for me. It might even make me nostalgic for my high school glory days.

We piled in the car after cramming dinner in our faces because—as my kids reminded me about ten times—it’s important not to be late. You don’t want to miss anything.

The thing is, after a half hour of sitting on the cold bleachers with a few other moms, I realized our kids weren’t watching the game at all.

The same kids who had to get there at 6 p.m. on the dot were missing everything. We were surrounded by a sea of teenagers with their heads bowed in their phones.

My friend looked at me and said, “I’m glad I drove my kids to the game so they could stare at their phones instead of watching their brother play.”

It was as if she was reading my mind. I felt so much validation in that moment. I wanted to stand on the bleachers and shout, “Did you hear that kids? It bothers other mothers that you don’t watch the game and are communicating through your phones while you sit next to each other! I am not the Wicked Witch of the East!”

I realize that smartphones are a way of life now. I’d never take my kid’s phone away at a soccer or football game in hopes they watch the entire game.

And there are many things I love about smartphones, especially the ability to connect with my teens.

It’s good to be able to get in touch with them when I need to. It beats the days when my mother had to hunt for me in a crowded ballpark. We don’t need to go back to those days—texting my kids to meet me in the warm car is so much more satisfying.

I know my kids think I’m old-fashioned because I don’t understand why they need to watch TikTok videos, take selfies, and send Snaps to the friends sitting right next to them at a game they’re not watching. But it makes sense to them.

Even though I’m getting better at accepting that this is the way it is for teens now, I was thankful to be sitting next to other mothers who agreed with my thoughts on the issue. I felt validated that other moms were also frustrated.

In this generational gap story, I think back to my parents. They hated when I had a friend over and we’d spend hours sitting in front of the television playing video games instead of going outside to sled or play kick-the-can like they once did. They thought we were wasting our time yelling at a screen. I thought they needed to get with the times.

Have we just turned into our parents?

Maybe I need to have a little more compassion—and a little less frustration—about the things my teens find entertaining.

If they want to spend time with their friends with cell phones in hand, so be it. I’ll pick my battles and save my energy for bigger issues—like who drank all the milk and put the empty container back in the refrigerator.

Katie Bingham-Smith had three kids in three years and crafts herself silly in order to stay sane. She loves to write, wear faux leather pants, eat at burger joints, and make beautiful things. You can see more on her Facebook and Instagram.

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