The Slot Machine In Your Pocket


I am sure that some of our parents, especially those with middle and high school students, wonder why we have such strict rules when it comes to hand phones and MP3 players. Many international schools allow students to use their phones throughout the day and few have restrictions like you see at Dalat.

Hand phones have become a big part of our lives with the majority of people and teenagers having not just a hand phone but a smart phone with many features and programs that are useful for so many things.

So why does Dalat continue to restrict kids from using their phone (and MP3 players) during the school day? There are some reasons related to opportunities for cheating and distraction but the main reason is that we value community.

There is nothing wrong with phones in that they are a useful tool for life. The problem, and one of the main reasons we restrict the use of phones and MP3 players, is that they can hinder community. Have you ever been at a restaurant and seen a group of friends or a family sitting there with everyone staring at their phones? Or how inviting is it to try and talk with a person if they have head phones in their ears and are listening to music? Inadvertently, by focusing on their phones or putting their headphones in their ears, the person is communicating to those around them – leave me alone, I am not a part of community right now. People who are staring at their phones or listening to music, whether they are intentional or not, remove themselves from what is happening around them while they engage with their device. They step out of the community for that time. As a school, we feel that during the school day we want our students to be fully engaged with those around them and fully part of our community.

It is amazing how much hand phones have become such a significant part of our lives. Most of our older students regular check and use their phones all hours of the day (except for during the school hours, of course). It will be the last thing they do before going to bed and the first thing they do the next morning when they wake up. The average person looks at their hand phone 110 times a day. Many of you would say there is no way you do it that much but I think we would be surprised and even shocked if we kept track how many times we do check our phones. A reason why this is happening is because computer and social media companies are hooking us through tricks and human psychology. I would strongly encourage you to watch the following interview by journalist Anderson Cooper on the show 60 Minutes called “Brain Hacking” which reveals how intentional and motivated these companies are in trying to make your phone an addiction. If you are like me, after watching it, you will be glad to know that at least during school hours, our kids are not playing the slot machine we call hand phones.

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Dalat Director

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people to make a positive impact on their world, walk with integrity, and follow Christ. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Dalat Director since 2006.

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