Novel way to keep SDSU students off their smartphones - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Novel way to keep SDSU students off their smartphones

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- San Diego State University students are getting rewards for not using their smartphones during class lectures.

A new app on the smartphone itself gives the students reward points if they lock down their phones during class time.

It's called Pocket Points and the longer the smartphone is locked down the more reward points the student accumulates. The points can be used for discounts at a growing number of local businesses.

SDSU student Lauren Breitenbach is the on-campus, Pocket Points representative.

“There are all these cool things you can get out of the app. It's free and all you do is lock your phone for a little bit and all this stuff is at your disposal,” said Breitenbach.

The app uses the phone's GPS locator to confirm the student is actually on campus.

Professors like the idea -- anything to keep those kids off their smartphones during lectures.

“To me it's very rude for them to do that, some of my colleagues ban the use of even PCs because they know they're surfing the internet,” said SDSU Professor Michael Peddecord.

“Some teachers are more strict about it than others,” said one SDSU coed. “I mean if you're phone goes off they take it from you.”

The Pocket Points app also ranks students who have kept their smart phones off the longest.

“It's kind of like a challenge to really see, ‘Can I stay off my phone for 13 minutes?'” said Breitenbach, the SDSU Pocket Points rep.

The more students using the app at a given time of day, the faster they collect points. For now, the app is free for both students and the sponsoring businesses, which include Cold Stone, Jersey Mike's Subs, Living Room Cafe, Grotto Climbing & Yoga, and the SDSU Bookstore.

“What we will do eventually is start charging businesses a small fee monthly to stay on the app,” said Breitenbach.

And who knows, maybe the app will help improve student grades in the long run.

“They're paying attention to their professor instead of being on their phone in class and getting rewarded for it,” Breitenbach said.

Pocket Points has been available at SDSU for the past four weeks. About one thousand SDSU students currently use the app. So far, about 13 local businesses have signed up to offer rewards.

If you would like more information on Pocket Points, you can contact Lauren Breitenbach at lauren@pocketpoints.com.

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