Pocket points encourages decrease of cell phone use in class


Pocket Points, an app that can help earn incentives at local businesses for keeping phones locked during class, seems to be the newest hit. photo by Cassidy Viox

Ji-Sung Lee

Pocket Points, an app that can help earn incentives at local businesses for keeping phones locked during class, seems to be the newest hit app. With seven hours in the school day, keeping phones tucked away can help to earn points.  
These points can add up to food incentives that range from a free donut from HyVee, buy one get one free burrito from Pancheros or even a free slushie from Sonic.  Though these enticements may be small, they have seemed to gain popularity from students.
“Cell phone use during class is a source of frustration for many of our teachers,” principal Dr. Jennifer Rukstad said.   “My goal was to offer a tool that might address this issue for at least some of our students.”
Since the beginning of the school year, students and faculty members alike have found themselves working to keep their phones towed away to gain that one last point, which often results in some discounted goodies. Whatever pushes students to fight the urge to answer a text or scroll through their social media feeds, it seems to be working.
“I like it because you can get free stuff just for doing nothing,” sophomore Emily Litton said.  “I benefit from it because I get free food and students are benefitted by being stopped from using phones during class.”
While many students enjoy taking advantage of gaining free coupons by storing phones away, others find they don’t even have the app.
“I don’t use pocket points because most of the discounts offered I don’t want,” junior Jadie Arnett said.  “I don’t like fast food, so when other people get excited about discounted chicken I find it disgusting.”
Even though the main marketing audience is students, teachers find the app is accessible to them, as well. While they are busy teaching, points can be racked up to treat themselves later on.
This is marketing plain and simple.  It might work better if there were more free products the more points you have, and if you were somehow encouraged on the app to see what you needed to save up to in order to earn those products,” social studies teacher Kimberly Thielen-Metcalf said.  “Discounts are great, but I like free stuff.”
Only a month into school, teachers can only hope the trend will continue throughout the school and decrease phone use.  For students, Arnett believes the number of users may stay the same, it’s only the discussion that will down grade.
“By the end of the year I think just as many people will still use the app,” Arnett said. “It just won’t be as big of a deal when people earn a discount and there won’t be a lot of talk about it.”
As the motto to “earn more by doing less” teachers can only hope that this small motivation will maintain its adoration by students.  If teachers are able to get their undivided attention for the reason they are at school to learn, the app is a success.
“Honestly, I don’t know that it will be impactful, and it is certainly not essential,” Rukstad said.  “But if a tool can provide a way for students to engage more fully in their classes, then it will be worth it.”