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Can Cell Phone Pouches Really Boost Focus in Classrooms? The Jury’s Out

TL;DR: At Eastlake High School in Colorado Springs, the introduction of Yondr pouches aimed to curb phone distractions and improve student focus. While some teachers report a positive change, students and parents express scepticism, labelling the move as overbearing. The debate highlights broader concerns over technology’s role in education and student well-being.

When Eastlake High School students came back in January 2021, their phones were like extensions of their hands, more than ever. Texting in class and social media squabbles were the norm. Principal Cassandra Berry saw a need for change after a fight, recorded and shared online, escalated tensions.

Her solution? Yondr pouches – a method borrowed from a no-phone policy at a Dave Chappelle show she attended.

Yondr, a company that’s seen a boom in interest since the pandemic began, now helps over a million students in 21 countries focus by keeping their phones out of reach during school hours. The idea has its cheerleaders among educators, praising the return of students’ attention to where it’s supposed to be – on learning.

Yet, not everyone’s on board. Some students find the pouches too controlling, and parents worry about their kids’ safety without immediate access to their phones. Critics also question if funds for Yondr could be better used elsewhere, especially in schools needing academic resources.

A significant body of research, including a 2015 study, supports phone restrictions for boosting test scores. However, today’s teens are more connected than ever, with a third reportedly on social media “almost constantly,” per Pew Research.

While many parents and educators support some form of phone limitation, outright bans or strict control measures like Yondr face resistance. Online petitions and student pushback underline this divide.

Despite mixed reactions, the use of Yondr pouches is spreading, with some U.S. districts mandating them and bipartisan congressional interest in reducing phone distractions. At Eastlake, Principal Berry reports fewer distractions and conflicts, a sentiment echoed by teachers in other schools using Yondr.

Yet, success stories are met with scepticism and challenges, emphasizing the nuanced debate over phones in schools and the search for balance between technology use and educational integrity.


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