Pocket Points helps students curtail cell phone use

Cell phones have always been distractions in the classroom, but a new mobile app called Pocket Points is giving students the incentive to ignore their devices and bolster their academic productivity.

MSU Denver student, Christina Kleemann using the Pocket Points app. Photo by Kaileigh Lyons | klyons9@msudenver.edu

Geolocation technology allows the app to detect the user’s location. When in class, a student who has the app will earn points for each minute their phone is locked. Those points can then be redeemed for free food and discounted goods from online and local businesses who are partnered with Pocket Points. Restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, Firehouse Subs and Insomnia Cookies are a few who offer exclusive deals to users.

“We’re excited by the participation of local businesses to support our mission of helping students find a healthier balance to their cell phone use,” said Rob Richardson, co-founder and CEO of Pocket Points.

Student entrepreneurs Richardson and Mitch Gardner founded the app in 2014 while attending California State University, Chico. The two noticed the complications of cell phone distractions and created Pocket Points with the hope to counteract them. The mobile app is now available in 120 U.S. cities, including more than 500 high schools and universities. MSU Denver students are taking advantage of the opportunity.

“I use it because it’s incentive to not be on my phone during class. I’m saving money on things I already spend a lot on, and it’s helping me stay focused,” said Melanie Stelling, a junior at MSU Denver. “I’m already up to 435 points. I redeemed 20 points the other day and got $25 off a phone screen repair.”

Stelling also mentioned deals she received with companies like Columbia Sportswear and Levi’s.

As more students are introduced to Pocket Points, mobile phone distractions are anticipated to be reduced. A press release published by Marketing Director Olivia Gattis stated that the app will “help thousands of local students this academic year be more productive at local schools.”

Students are also able to see if fellow peers are using the app around the area. Once points are accumulated, they are displayed on the gift page with each student’s unique rewards.

Stelling thought it would be neat if the points could one day go toward parking discounts.

“Being at a commuter school, I spend so much money on gas and parking. I love all the gifts there are, but I was thinking it would be even more of an incentive if the points could partially cover parking fees,” Stelling said.

With the app’s increasing popularity, the idea is one that could potentially be taken up by the student body.

Businesses will also reap the benefits as students check out the various deals. Partnerships with Pocket Points create opportunities to attract new customers. Local and online companies are invited to sign up to partner at their website www.PocketPoints.com.

The app is available to download for free in Apple App Store, or the Google Play app store for Android devices. After downloading, students will quickly set up an account. As soon as they enter the classroom, users will open the app and lock their devices to begin earning points.

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