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School locks up students cell phones to improve grades, prevent cyber-bullying

All Tribes Charter School uses Yondr Pouches
Yondr Pouches.png
Posted at 9:22 AM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 13:38:59-04

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. (KGTV) - All Tribes Charter School in Valley Center has found a solution to the problem of kids paying too much attention to their cell phones in class.

They've started using Yondr pouches to lock up phones at the beginning of the school day.

"These things are more distracting than hormones for teenage kids," says All Tribes Charter School Administrator Michelle Parada. "Attention to the cell phone is not attention to school."

READ: Study: Separation from cellphone causes anxiety for some

According to a Pew Research Survey in 2018, 95% of teenagers say they have a cell phone, and 45% of them say they're online "almost constantly." Fifteen percent say they've experienced cyber-bullying.

Parada says that addiction has led to poor attention in class, declining grades and cyber-bullying.

All that changed when the school deployed 120 Yondr pouches last spring.

Every day, the kids turn off and lock their phones in a pouch when they arrive at school. They keep the locked pouch with them all day long. The pouches get unlocked by administrators at the end of the day.

Predictably, the kids don't like it.

"I like having my phone, having easy access," says Senior Melani Maxcy. "And with this thing, I can't do it."

"This school didn't need it really," says Willow Robinson. "Yeah, we'd post every once in a while in class, but that's when we were just sitting around and talking."

Parada says it was also tricky getting parents to adjust, many of whom like to keep in touch with their students throughout the day.

"They're probably the biggest perpetrators of calling their kids during the day. Constantly," says Parada. "They're constantly calling, messaging or texting their kids."

Parada tells parents if there is an emergency and they need to reach their student, they can still call the school office. She says administrators are usually able to reach a student within a couple of minutes.

Despite the push-back, Parada says the new policy is helping. Grades and attention are up, and cyber-bullying has gone down.

"All of the picture taking, video taking, SnapChat, Instagram has stopped," says Parada, noting that the kids can't post if they don't have a phone. "Kids are compelled to take pictures, to take videos and start shooting them out to other people."

She adds it has also cut down on disruptions in class and food deliveries to the school.

A spokesperson for Yonder tells 10News that demand for the product has grown in Southern California through the last year. In San Diego, there are now four schools using the pouches: All Tribes Charter School, Caliber Beta Academy, Mark Twain High School and the San Diego County ROP.

The schools pay a fee to lease the pouches and the unlocking tool. Parada says All Tribes pays $1,200 per year, and every penny is well worth the cost.