The Race for Our Attention

Almost everyone who reads this article currently own a smartphone which is with them or sitting not far away. It is amazing how quickly these devices became an indispensable part of life. Many of you cannot imagine what your life would be like without it.

We are just now starting to ask some very important questions about these wonderful, little devices that make our lives so much “easier”.  What impact are they having on us? More importantly, what kind of impact are they having on our kids? There are some pretty alarming statistics about smartphones as this generation wrestles with how these machines are changing our lives:

  • 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their smartphones.
  • 69% of parents and 78% of teens check their phone at least hourly.
  • 72% of teens feel they need to respond and answer texts and messages immediately.
  • 66% of parents feel that their teenager spends too much time on their smartphone.
  • 54% of teens felt that their parents check their phones too often.
  • 52% of parents are trying to lessen time spent on their mobile devices.
  • 28% of teens say their parents are addicted to their phones.
  • 36% of parents say that they have conflict with their teen about smartphones on a daily basis.
The fact of the matter is that the social media companies are competing for your time and your attention and the phone is their best weapon. They make lots of money by getting your attention and then keeping it as long as possible. To do that they are integrating powerful psychological tools that work on the human brain. Simply put, they are purposefully trying to get you and your children “addicted” to looking at and using your phone.

So today, what we have is huge companies with millions of dollars at their disposable and brilliant minds working on ways to try and get you hooked on your phones, apps, or social media networks. There is literally an “arms race” by these companies to develop ways to keep you interacting with the device. The statistics point to the fact that they are winning as more and more of our time every year is spent with our heads down looking at our phones.

There is some good news in all of this. First, Dalat has a rule that students are not to use their phones during the school day. This is not appreciated by most students and some parents, but at least you can know that for 8 hours a day your kids are not doing battle with these social network companies. Second, we can lessen the ability of these devices to grab us and hijack our attention with some small changes and steps. In the coming weeks we will talk about such steps and some suggested changes.

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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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