Schools Across the US Locking Up Students’ Cell Phones

Schools Across the US Strive To Lock Up Students' Phones

( – Many students have cell phones these days, a drastic change from just a decade ago. While schools strongly discourage students — and sometimes prohibit them — from using mobile phones during school hours, educational institutions have struggled to eliminate the devices as a distraction.

Popularity of Cell Phones

According to K-12 Dive, 97% of teenagers admit to using their cell phones during the day. They often use them to browse social media, watch YouTube videos, and play games. They may also use them to take pictures or videos, which they often post on social media or sometimes use to bully other students.

Opponents have argued that the devices have become a distraction from students’ curriculums and classroom studies, making teaching more difficult. Many institutions have tried to ban their use during school hours, but prohibitions have met with varying degrees of pushback. Some parents have voiced concerns that their children wouldn’t be able to reach them in an emergency, or they may not have access to necessary health-related issues such as glucose monitoring. Then, there’s also the point that smartphones may actually help improve a student’s learning experience by allowing them to perform further research on subjects they’re discussing in class.

Yet, more schools are considering restricting their use because the downfalls seemingly outweigh the benefits.

Enter Yondr Pouches

In 2014, Graham Dugoni founded Yondr, a company that sells a single product: cell phone pouches. They are slightly bigger than a phone and magnetically sealed to prevent teens from accessing their devices. While his product didn’t initially take off, that has changed.

School districts in 41 states have purchased the pouches, spending a collective $2.5 million, most of that since May of 2022. Students tap a special magnet when they arrive at school to lock the pouch and then tap it again on the way out to unlock it.

San Mateo-Foster City district uses the product. They allow the kids to take the reusable pouches home and bring them back to school. Superintendent Diego Ochoa calls the pouches “an unquestioned success,” per NBC News. Another school, East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy, also touts the success of Yondr pouches, saying that students are now participating more in school.

There are still skeptics about the technology, including students themselves, many of whom have combined forces to start petitions to either eliminate their use or, at the very least, scale them back. Several students have started petitions on, advocating for cell phones as tools. They say that mobile phones were invaluable during school shootings for documenting bullying incidents.

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