Shorter Pocket Points


Katelyn Newton, Mirada Staff

Walking into class, a red tally mark streaks across the board: another Saturday School assigned. For a long time negative consequences have been used to restrict phone usage, but now a more rewarding method has appeared.

Pocket Points, designed for teachers and businesses, targets the obsessive behaviors of teenagers with their phones, in a rewarding way.

Pocket Points is a mobile app, designed by students at Chico State, that attempts to reduce phone usage during class.

Principal Brian Ginter has provided teachers with the information they need to implement Pocket Points in their own classes, after being approached by a director of San Juan Unified.

“It’s being used in colleges across the country, so my boss put out an email to all the principles to ask if any of us would be interested,” said Ginter. “I asked teachers and I got about 20 or 30 of them who were like ‘Yeah I got time might be interested.’”

While some teachers express interest, other are hesitant or against the program despite the company’s claimed benefits.

According to Pocket Points employees, in the time frame that they have used the app in colleges it has raised the GPA of kids who have been using it by 0.276 points.

These impressive claims are not guaranteed, since a lot of success depends on the students’ effort and dedication to limiting phone time. The app has not proved to be completely smooth-sailing either.

“The only problem were finding right now is because our schedule changes, whenever we have a regular day instead of a block day they [teachers] would have to go in and change times all the time, which could be problematic and might deter some of them from using it,” said Ginter.

The app determines how much time one spends off their phone, not on it, so punishments can’t be administered by tracking phone activity on the app.

The Pocket Points application must be opened for it to calculate how much time a student refrained from using their phone. Students might be tempted, however, since they can benefit from the accumulation of points.

“Teachers can set up things in the app to where you can get to drop an assignment or lowest test score,” said Ginter. “There’s also national companies that have affiliations with this app so that when you get so many points you get food or clothes from these places on the points that you’ve earned.”

Restaurants like Jamba Juice and Chick Fil A offer promotions like free or discounted food. An increasing amount of companies develop deals with Pocket Points, like the clothing brand Lulus, who offers 20 percent off dresses, or Lyft, who offers a free ride with an accumulation of points.

Other schools in the district utilize the app, such as Encina, and Mira Loma is looking at it, too.

The decision is up to teachers at this point, and there are opinions supporting both sides. Lucky for students, it’s not an all or nothing situation, and some teachers may choose participate while others opt out.