I came of age in the sixties. “The Wonder Years” is a pretty good metaphor for my youth, followed by “That 70s Show”. My own son came of age in the early 90’s.

My WIP is a contemporary coming of age Christmas story. Principal characters are a young boy and girl aged 14 and 13. I open the story with a game of sand-lot baseball, played in a large vacant lot in the neighborhood.

It occurred to me, after re-reading the chapter, that the description of all the neighborhood kids gathered together in the lot to play ball, or dodge ball, or fly model planes – was really a childhood memory of mine. I then realized my own son also played in an undeveloped area of the neighborhood with his friends, launching model rockets, playing ‘army’, and such.

But I wonder – do kids nowadays still play ball in vacant lots? I look down my street, and see kids shooting hoops in driveways, and in the street with those moveable backstops – but we don’t have a ‘vacant lot’ around here. Is it an unrealistic image, to think of contemporary kids, in a Gulf Coast town, playing in vacant lots?

Mind you, we had little league, pony league and organized ‘summer teams’ of various sports – but neighborhood kids still played together.

Are kids now more inclined to glue themselves to the computer or TV for video games? (Yes, they’re in the story too.) I don’t want to create a ‘dated’ image for a contemporary story.

I also have a character’s mother come outside and shout her name, “Jenny… Dinner”. Again, this is a childhood memory of mine. A large neighborhood full of kids, out playing anywhere on the block; it was not uncommon to hear a mother or father go out in their yard and call their kids name. I did this for my son, in the nineties. But now kids have cell phones. Is it reasonable to hear a parent calling a child home for dinner?

Thanks in advance to any expert parents of current young teens, or young teens themselves.