Pocket Points: good or bad?

West Side Story staffers share their opposing viewpoints on the newest system to keep phones out of the classroom: Pocket Points.

December 3, 2016

A waste of time

West High recently joined the application Pocket Points. This app rewards you for not being on your phone with coupons and discounts to local stores and restaurants. Sounds like a win win right? Wrong.

The way administration presented the app was by shutting off your phone, you earn points. Unfortunately, it’s much harder than that. In order to even earn points, you must have the app open on your mobile device. So me having the app open on my phone all day just to earn points is going to drain my already short-lived iPhone battery even more. Especially with all the extracurricular activities and social events were expected to attend after school, my phone will not survive until noon, let alone 8 p.m. just to earn “points”.

The whole point system itself is wack too. Every 25 minutes you only earn one point. I spend seven hours and 10 minutes at school – sometimes an extra 10-15 minutes sitting in the parking lot waiting for class to start. However, those extra minutes don’t benefit me at all since my phone isn’t locked. Subtract the 32 minutes I spend at lunch on my phone to show my friends all the juicy gossip I found in since lunch yesterday. That’s about six hours – more or less, to earn points; IF you don’t touch your phone the entire time. Take those six hours – 360 minutes in class, divided by 25 minutes for every one point you earn – that’s around 14 points a day. In order to get the good rewards, such as buy one get one free, you have to have 15 points. You don’t even make that many points in one day. So all my effort to be off my phone for six long excruciating hours won’t even get me a free pizza with the purchase of another pizza.

I mentioned all the activities we as students are involved in at West. The play, show choir, sports, clubs, or even getting help from another teacher. All of these activities require us to be on school grounds. A great way to earn even MORE points, right?

WRONG. You can only earn points from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

So you’re telling me that I spent six hours off my phone to earn points that I missed out on so much social media action and I won’t have time to catch up on it until 8 or 9 at night when I get home? A tragedy, for sure.

My point being, if this app is intended to reward us for good behavior, it ain’t workin’. I expect more points for my immense effort to sacrifice my hypothetical child over to the “system” for six hours. I also expect my points to keep racking up after school hours since I spend so much time in the building contributing to my love of music and academics until late at night. And lastly, unless school is going to provide charging stations at every desk, don’t expect me to waste my battery earning 14 points a day when I have more important things to waste my battery life on like Kylie Jenner’s makeup restock and J.Cole’s new album release.

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Free food . . . what could be better?

“You can get free Chick-fil-A” was all I needed to hear to become hooked on pocket points. While that restaurant might not be the exact type of food I wanted, it was still free food. And how can anyone not love that?

From Sweets and Treats candy to clothing from Revival, and even free online shipping, pocket points has become a new close friend of mine.

The fact that I can earn points just by having my phone turned off, which I already rarely use in a day, is exciting (plus the fact that I can text off my laptop if I need to get around it is also quite a joy).

Dr. Shoultz told us that we can only earn points from 8:10 am to 4 pm at West, but luckily you can earn points longer because the U of I campus reaches our school. Bless the college town.

Despite the texting and point earning hacks, pocket points is overall just a great addition to our school. In less than a day, I have noticed less people on their phones around me, and class discussion has increased as everyone is forced to pay attention if they want to get that free pasta from Z’Mariks later that night.

I mean seriously, what better way to get high school students off their phones than giving them food. The idea is pure genius.

And with the help of Order Up, students can now cut down the price of their food and have it be brought to them. It is a complete win-win situation.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Wow, this sounds great, what more could I ever want?’ Well let me tell you- when downloading pocket points you automatically get a free fountain drink. It’s not much, but its free- and who doesn’t like free stuff.

Overall, pocket points is a game changer for West High, a school where classes were being overtaken by the power of the cell phone. Teachers have been unable to get students to interact with each other in group discussions, or listen to their lectures, or even take notes. Test’s have been sent from student to student by texting a photo, and secret conversations have taken place while class is in session. Phones have become the number one distraction in the classroom, and it truly has become a problem. I mean, not even the threat of having your phone put in jail for the day could stop students.

But now we have positive reinforcement. And classes have instantly become more focused and attentive to what is going on in the present- not making plans for Friday night or texting your friend across the room about what the guy next to you is wearing.

So thank you pocket points for making classes slightly more bearable, for being easy to cheat for more points and, most importantly, for giving us free food.

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