Once upon a time, the best distractions during school hours were M*A*S*H and origami fortune tellers. But the popularity of mobile apps, social media and texting brought countless ways for students to ignore lesson plans. However, the app Pocket Points motivates college students to stay off their phones with the most powerful bribe for their demographic: free food.
With geo-fencing, Pocket Points monitors the amount of time spent off a person’s phone on campus. Once the user starts Pocket Points and locks the phone, the app starts a stopwatch. The more students using the app, the faster points will accumulate. In other words, at 9 a.m. one point can be earned in 10 minutes; at 9 p.m., it might take 30 minutes to earn one point. This not only encourages students to tell their friends, but also use it during class time rather than just late night studying. Then, users collect Pocket Points to save up for free food and discounted coupons with the app’s business partners. Typically, the more points the better reward at 15 point, 50 point, and 75 point intervals. Depending on the privacy settings, students can view peers’ ranking and app activity. Once users select a coupon, they have 24 hours to redeem it.
Each school has its own account and vendors. But as an app created by students for students, users will have a hard time finding loopholes. For example, only classrooms can earn points, excluding on-campus dorms, gyms or dining halls. And businesses only accept a certain amount of coupons per day (making burrito deals especially competitive). However, the app isn’t exclusively for food vendors. Bookstores and clothing stores also use the app. Businesses can also choose to change offers or keep them the same over time.
The app first launched in March 2014, conceptualized by a computer science major and his friend at Chico State University. Then, a friend at Penn State University brought the app to the east coast. Finally, the app expanded to University of Michigan, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder and San Diego State University. However, before the fall semester begins, more California-based schools may join the list.