James Clemens teachers using app to keep students off their phones in class

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MADISON, Ala. - Whether to allow cell phones in the classroom is an ongoing debate. Some teachers are using an app that uses technology to fight technology.

"You want your students to be able to have access to technology as much as possible, but you also need to teach them that phone etiquette," said Kathryn Weir, a teacher at James Clemens High School.

Teachers all have their own way to handle cell phones in the classroom. Some collect them at the beginning of class or ban phones altogether.

This school year Weir has been using the app "Pocket Points." The app tracks how long students are off their phones while in class. The app times how long the phone is locked and students earn points for that time.

"Whenever your friend texts you during class and you just want to answer it right? but then you're like, 'No, I've got to win the Pocket Points,"' said Ellis Ku, a James Clemens sophomore.

Once they've racked up points, students can redeem them for prizes, like extra time on a project, a homework pass, candy, or anything the teacher offers up.

"A lot of them are very competitive so they want to beat other people, and gain all their Pocket Points," said Weir.

Students who use it said the app helped set their priorities in class.

"There's always just that alert in your pocket, and you just want to look at it so bad, then it's like, I have work to do. I could be more productive, instead of looking at this Snapchat. Someone sent me that, I can look at any time of the day. I have work that has to get done," said Tony Lauderdale, a James Clemens junior.

The free app isn't only for the classroom. It can also track how long drivers stay off their phones while in the car and earn discounts to stores and restaurants.

Families can also use Pocket Points to track the screen time at home and businesses can join the app to provide their own discounts and prizes.

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