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Tags: school districts | cell phones | schools | children

Schools Spend $2.5M on Pouches to Keep Kids off Phones

By    |   Tuesday, 26 December 2023 02:19 PM EST

School districts in 41 states have spent $2.5 million over the past eight years to buy special pouches that keep students from using their cellphones or other devices while they're in class.

The reusable pouches, produced by Yondr, a California startup, are magnetically sealed, reusable, and lock and unlock with the use of a specialized magnet, which keeps kids from being able to easily open them, reports NBC News.

According to Govspend, a database of government purchases and contracts that reported the spending amounts, most of the spending on the special pouches has taken place since May 2022, reflecting the growing concerns over the effects of smartphone use on children and the amount of time they are using the devices while they're in school.

Graham Dugoni, the CEO of Yondr, said that back in 2014 when he invented the pouches, there was less worry about the time children and teens use their phones.

"At the time, I was going around door-to-door. I had 500 pouches in the back of my car, and I'd go around to schools during the day and concert venues at night," he told NBC News.

The pouches also became popular for use at music or comedy venues, where the artists said phones were detracting from their live performances, and Yondr's early boosters were comedians Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock and musician Jack White.

Schools, however, initially answered that they wanted more technology in schools, not less, but now, that's changed, said Dugoni.

Two senators last month proposed introduced legislation calling for studies into the effects of cellphones being used in classrooms in grades K-12, and several school districts have filed lawsuits aimed at social media companies including Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube over the costs that are growing in connection with the use of the apps.

Just under half of teens say they're online "almost constantly," about double the amount answering that question in 2014-2015, according to Pew Research Center surveys.

Further, a Pew survey this year said 95% of teens between the ages of 13-17 said they have access to a smartphone.

The phones are also proving to be a distraction because of the constant notifications. About half of young people ages 11-17 said they get at least 237 notifications in a day, with 25% coming during school hours, a report from Common Sense Media, which studies the impact of media and technology, reported.

Diego Ochoa, the superintendent of the San Mateo-Foster City School District in California, said his district decided to try out the Yondr pouches in 2022, after hearing about them from a neighboring district.

"Teenagers were taking videos of each other on their phones," he said. "These were videos of kids in locker rooms. These were videos of kids bullying each other. The phones represent this Wild, Wild West."

He acknowledged that some parents were concerned about being out of touch with their children, but the district still began requiring the pouches for students in all four of the district's middle schools. High schools in the area fall under a different district.

"The system is deceptively simple," he said. "Every kid goes home with their pouch and comes back with their pouch."

Parents and guardians are now calling the school office to reach students in the case of a family emergency, and some students are granted exceptions, such as those with diabetes who need their phones to use a continuous glucose monitoring device app.

Ochoa said the pouches are "an unquestioned success," as students are paying attention in class and spending more time talking with each other.

Students aren't so happy about the pouches, though. There are about 80 petitions on about Yondr, with some students arguing that phones are necessary in times of emergency, such as a school shooting.

Other students post on online message boards and through videos that there are ways to avoid the Yondr pouches, but school administrators say that is obvious to see when it happens.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

School districts in 41 states have spent $2.5 million over the past eight years to buy special pouches that keep students from using their cell phones or other devices while they're in class.
school districts, cell phones, schools, children
Tuesday, 26 December 2023 02:19 PM
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