Program to reduce student cell phone distraction starts at Benton High School

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A year-long pilot program to reduce students’ distraction with cell phones began Thursday at Benton High School.

Students are now required to place their cell phones into locked pouches for the entire school day. 

A parent advisory group and Benton High School Principal Teri Howe agreed there was a need to pilot the program this year to cut down on cell phone distractions and increase engagement and learning.

Students will place their phones into their issued Yondr cell phone soft pouch first thing in the morning when they arrive at school, and lock them closed with a snap that works like the security tags you find on clothing at department stores. After the pouch is secure, students then take their pouched phones with them. They can only be unlocked with a special device at dismissal time, nearly eight hours later.

Funding for the pouches is coming from the school, not the district.

Ben Blanchard, a Yondr Representative, shows a Benton High School student how to use their cell phone pouches early Thursday morning. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

The Yondr pouches are successfully being used in thousands of schools in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Yondr CEO Graham Dugoni was inspired to create the pouches after noticing that people at some concerts he was attending were more absorbed with their phones than with the music. 

“We’re excited to introduce phone-free spaces to the greater Benton High School community. Anyone interested in creating phone-free spaces at a party, sporting event, museum, restaurant or more can contact us through our website at overyondr.com,” said a Yondr spokesperson.

Children are learning how to use cell phones and receiving their own at younger ages than ever before. Since teenagers have grown up in an era where cell phone use has been ingrained in them at such a vulnerable age, they are very susceptible to developing an addiction to their smartphones and/or social media.

According to a 2018 study from the Pew Research Center, more than half of teens said they felt loneliness, anxiety, or upset in the absence of a cellphone.