The Power of Pocket Points

Pocket Points lets students earn gifts for locking their phones

Freshman Avery Legg and Abbie Cotler check their points on Pocket Points. Students can earn a point for every 20 minutes they have their phone locked.

photo by Emily Cosio

Freshman Avery Legg and Abbie Cotler check their points on Pocket Points. Students can earn a point for every 20 minutes they have their phone locked.

Junior Alyse Booth was driving teammates to a three-hour winter guard practice and she was hungry. Freshman Avery Legg suggested nuggets because she had Pocket Points and she wanted to use some of her points she had earned.  Booth, Legg, and freshmen Abbie Cotler and Ashley Twilley all had enough points to get free nuggets before practice.

Pocket Points is a new app that allows students to earn points for locking their phone during school hours. Points can then be used for coupons, discounts and gifts at different local businesses, including Chewy Boba, BurgerFi, and Chick-Fil-A. On average, users get one point for every 20 minutes for locking their phones.

“Pocket Points helps me focus in class more and gives me motivation so I can get free stuff,” sophomore Katelyn Adair said.

After earning enough points to “purchase” a discount or gift, students have 24-hours to use it. No additional purchases are required to receive the item. At the store or restaurant, the employee presses accept and then students collect the reward.

“I like [Pocket Points] because it makes me feel like I should be more focused on my work rather than on whatever song I’m listening to or checking what time it is,” sophomore Emma Register said.

The app increases student engagement in two ways: students are paying attention to the lesson and teachers aren’t stopping the lesson to tell students to put their phones away. Teachers agree that Pocket Points has been effective, however, they also think that students shouldn’t be rewarded for a behavior that is expected of them.

“I do think that [this] is necessary because kids have gotten so used using their phones,” teacher Sarah Jarem said.

However, teachers are hopeful that grades may start improving if students are spending less time on their phones, and more time paying attention to class.

Some teachers were only vaguely aware of the new program because it is self-regulating. Once the app is turned on and the phone is locked, the program takes care of monitoring the number of minutes the phone is not being used, which gives teachers one less thing to worry about.

“I have noticed kids using their phones less in class just because they want to earn points, especially for Chick-Fil-A,” Jarem said.

Pocket Points began when a college student, Rob Richardson, thought that students were abusing their cell phone usage. Although, he wanted professors to give extra credit, it was turned down. Instead, points can be used for discounts that come from the businesses around the campus. At first, Pocket Points was only open to universities, but now many high schools have started using this program across the country.

“It definitely is beneficial because it keeps kids off the phone during class time,” teacher Erin Foley said. “They aren’t tempted to get on and check messages or face-tweet-agram or whatever it is that kids are checking these days.”

Not only do students and teachers benefit, but local businesses who have signed up to offer rewards are enjoying getting extra business. Students will usually buy another item to go with their free gift.

“I like that it gives you the chance to get deals at stores, just by not being on my phone at school,” Register said.sidebar-2