Pocket Points app now available to high school students

The app allows students to get deals at local restaurants in exchange for keeping their phones away.

Cameron Cook, Reporter / Videographer

Next time you get a message, you may not want to check it right away. West High principal Gregg Shoultz announced last week that an app called Pocket Points was going to be launched at school.

“I was notified about it a couple weeks ago that [Pocket Points] wanted to branch out to the high school. They’d been doing it at the University of Iowa for a while and decided they were ready to add a high school part,” Shoultz said. “I researched it a little bit and it seemed to be on the up and up.”

Shoultz decided that Pocket Points could help students focus better in classes. He says that there’s been a change in how students use their phones.

“They see that students seem to be addicted to their phones, in some cases,” he said. “They impulsively are checking it, and so this is a way to keep attention on the instruction and not on their phones.”

Gracie Rechkemmer ’18 downloaded Pocket Points immediately and is excited about its potential.

“I like Pocket Points because it’s a fun, unique way to encourage students to pay attention in class,” she said. “I know I personally, like many students, am super competitive, so trying to get as [many] points as possible and move up on the leaderboard is a good incentive for me to spend less time on my phone. Plus, who doesn’t love free food?”

Some students, though, don’t feel the same way. Bailey Clingan ’17 feels that the system is flawed, “because you have to use your phone to not use your phone.”

Clingan thinks the need to open the app and have it run throughout the day detracts from the real purpose of Pocket Points.

“You have to go on your phone to get the points,” Clingan said. “The whole point is to not use your phone.”

However great Pocket Points may be right now, rumours of ways to artificially increase the number of points earned shed uncertainty on its future. These “shortcuts” include having more than one smart electronic device and using points from University of Iowa classes as well, where the points are allocated faster.

“I’m not sure if it will last, because students who are smarter than I am find ways to cheat and earn a ton of undeserved points,” Rechkemmer said. “If people keep doing that the school will probably have to shut it down, because no business is going to give away thousands of points worth of free food.”

Whatever the fate of Pocket Points turns out to be, we can count on it being a source of free Chick-Fil-A in the near future.