This School Locks Up Students’ Phones

This School Locks Up Students’ Phones

November 27, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


Today, 95 percent of teens have
access to a smartphone and 45 percent self-report that they’re online
almost constantly. Smartphones have penetrated all aspects of daily life,
but of special concern to educators it’s their prevalence in schools. It would be a rally, right? And
the rallies were getting students pumped up for a particular event, and students
would be Snapchatting it the whole time. So really they weren’t experiencing
it and being present, they were behind the screen. The average kid gets their first
smartphone at age 10. That’s fifth grade. Most will open their first social
media account within the next few years. But some schools are beginning to
question the wisdom of allowing kids to enter the classroom with tiny
computers and social networks in their pockets. There’s so many studies that have come
out in the last few years about the social anxiety, stress, low self-esteem,
teen suicide is up. Studies are showing and proving how destructive these
devices can be. Not only the device itself, but the
social media aspect of it. These concerns, along with a
general annoyance at phone-gazing concert goers, led 32 year old Graham Dugoni
to build a device called Yondr, which is essentially a locking smartphone pouch.
Users drop their phone in, the pouch locks, and can only
be reopened with a large magnet. If something feels weird about modern
life to young kids who are dealing with a lot of angst and anxiety
in general, maybe it has something to do with relating to the world primarily
through a screen eight hours a day. Silvestri first heard about Yondr from
an English teacher at San Lorenzo who was fed up with
her student’s lack of focus. She was really frustrated with the
relationships that she had with her students in her classroom. And a lot
of it revolved around cell phone use. She was constantly telling students
to please put their phones away. The teacher, Gina Spiers, piloted Yondr
in her classroom and Silvestri was so impressed with the results
that she implemented at schoolwide, beginning in the 2017/2018 school year.
Now, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. students must lock their phones
inside a Yondr pouch. According to Silvestri, not only has this led
to improved grades and a drop in disciplinary issues, but a distinct change
in how students relate to each other. Uno is back at an all time
high. Our students are playing Dungeons and Dragons. They’re out playing baseball,
they’re out playing volleyball and soccer, basketball. They’re reading, doing
homework. I go to other schools and I don’t see that. The
schools are quieter. Students have their heads down. You’ll see them standing in a
circle all texting each other. Or on social media or playing games. However, some still go to great
lengths to stay connected to their devices. Students will have multiple cell phones
to try and avoid doing Yondr. Like they will have some burner type phone
that will go into the pouch and they’ll still have
another phone on them. Overall, the student response has
been mixed with many expressing initial annoyance while also
acknowledging the upsides. It feel different. Like, it feel like
kind of awkward not having it in your pocket, like not expecting
it to be there. Everybody was like, trying to start
petitions to stop it. We thought that they were taking a right for us
to have our phones, like that shouldn’t be something the school should
have a right to do. In this day and age, technology is
like a part of life, like regular life. So we should be using it in school. It was kind of annoying at first,
but then I saw like the difference between like my old
school and this school. I see more people like interacting
rather than being on their phones, like especially at lunch
time and break time. It helps me concentrate more in
class and not hearing that vibration and not having my mind telling
me to like, see it. Before in class, when I check my phone
I would get in trouble like or I’d be like sneaky about it and like
hide it. But now I don’t do it. In total, Yondr has partnered with
over 1,000 schools across the United States, Canada and Europe and
worked with over 400 performers including Dave Chappelle, Jack White and Chris
Rock. The company does little in the way of advertising, so Dugoni says
many schools have learned about it through these big name comedians
and musicians who require attendees to lock up their phones at their
shows. But it’s not just entertainers and school administrators who
are taking note. We hear from people all over the
place. I mean we’re in courts, we’re in, we do tons of weddings, events,
everything down to dentist’s office. It’s kind of, the whole concept
applies and relates to everything. For larger performances , Yondr typically
charges two dollars per head and the price for implementing Yondr in
schools varies from 15 to 30 dollars per student, depending on school size.
As one of Yondr’s first school partners, San Lorenzo received a
discounted rate and from Silvestri’s perspective it’s been well worth it. We have a lot of human
interaction, a lot of building of relationships. It’s what schools should be like and
it’s what I think the world should be like, what events should be like.
I can’t imagine now going backwards. I can’t imagine a school that would
allow cell phones during the day.