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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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App rewards Aggies for reduced screen time

Pocket+Points
Photo by By Edwin Conde
Pocket Points

A new app that rewards students for not using their devices in class has made its way into pockets across campus.
Pocket Points measures the amount of time a student’s smartphone is locked during class on campus. Once a student has enough designated points, they can trade points for rewards and discounts at local businesses. The app uses wifi to determine a student’s location and tracks the time spent on campus to determine how many points the user receives.
In 2014, two students from California State University — Rob Richardson and Mitch Gardner — created Pocket Points upon noticing how distracted their classmates were when they used their phones in class. Brent Glowatch, mechanical engineering senior at Chico State, is the administration manager for the Pocket Points team. Glowatch said the app’s purpose is to keep students off their phones at inappropriate times.
“There is a time for everything, but having your phone out in class is not one of them,” Glowatch said.
Glowatch said the Pocket Points team discourages phone use in class by “giving a carrot instead of a stick” — rewarding students for good behavior.
“College students are on a budget, so by giving students rewards on food and other stuff they’d buy around campus, it’s useful,” Glowatch said.
Alex Skrocki, recreation, park and tourism sciences freshman, is among the students at A&M who use the app for discounts around town.
“I like to build my points, so I have 180 points right now…[but] I went ice skating with my organization and I got to ice skate for free because I had 40 points and it was worth it and I was like, ‘Heck yeah for studying,’” Skrocki said. Technology and human communication professor Aya Segal said that, to some professors, students having phones out in class is distracting. However Segal said not all phones are a hindrance, and she has her students use their technology in class to do assignments and research.
“Although the app seems nice and everyone wins and everyone gets what they want, why not think the other way around?” Segal said. “Smartphones are such a strong educational tool — why not incorporate them into the classroom and use them?”
But, Rachael Silverman, psychology sophomore, and others are not impressed by the app and its rewards options.
“I don’t like the limitations to the number of places you can use it at, like I know that it is a new up-and-coming app, but there’s only nine places you can use it at, and I haven’t even heard of two of  them,” Silverman said. “It’s a good idea — they just need to implement it better.”

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