When I first looked up “Yondr,” the actual definition of the word, “yonder” came up. As an adjective, it means, “at some distance in the direction indicated; over there,” and as a noun, it means, “the far distance.”
With Yondr, phones will definitely seem far away.
Before I get into my own opinion, let me explain what these things are. Yondr is a phone pouch that clips closed with a magnet at the top. This lock can’t be opened without a key (or in this case, another magnet) at the end of class, school or show. The magnet looks like one of those dog bowls that has an elevated center.
Got it? Do you know what I’m talking about? Okay, good. Now I can keep going since we are on the same page.
Not a lot of people know about these magnetic phone prisons, simply because there isn’t a lot of marketing for them. This company relies on people like Dave Chappelle, who requires them for his shows. Slowly, they started migrating to schools, causing a panic and all-day lock down–with phones.
Yondr sounds like a dream in theory. Trust me–when I go to Girl Scout camping trips and my phone is stripped away and locked up, it is amazing. I am completely disconnected to the world. It’s like I can finally breathe again. I socialize with my friends and I am more likely to go outside or jump off that cliff into the river below. I am more likely to whip out my notebook and scribble down story ideas. Being disconnected is one of the more wonderful feelings in the world.
But in that case, it is a camping trip. It is designed to keep us away from the screens and be “one with nature,” or something like that. The camp leaders have phones that are directly connected to our parents, just in case of emergencies. I am around people I know like the back of my hand. I trust them.
That is not the same in the classroom.
I typically don’t trust everyone in my classroom, nor am I willing to announce my personal problems to the students or the teacher. I would rather just settle it by stepping out of class for a few minutes and speaking to my family about it. When it comes to actually emergencies, students need to contact people they trust, not have to explain themselves in the middle of a lecture. Students need to sometimes figure out their pick-up situation during school. I did that plenty of times, especially when my band practice suddenly changed on me. The teachers want us to leave the school when school is over. We can’t really do that when we don’t have a ride, or don’t know the the heck is going on.
I typically don’t check my phone in class, but when I do, it’s when I actually need to check my phone, or I need to study at lunch, or watch crash course for my AP History test that day. I don’t have a TI-Nspire Series fancy calculator to help me with quick math homework. I need my phone for when we have free time in class to do my homework, or get ahead of it so I can actually get sleep that night.
If Yondr suddenly made a hit on campus, I would be a little more than annoyed.
Everything is digital now. Most of the study guides are online. AP Classroom helps me study for Biology and History. What about my online textbooks? How am I supposed to access them during school–you know, actually be productive–if my phone is locked up in a comfy prison pouch? Half of my assignments have to be turned in online. I have to register for things online and complete things online. If my phone is locked up, I can’t do that until after school, which ultimately means…less sleep for me.
Now there are students that kind of need this break. These are the students that check their phone for every single like on Instagram or keeps their Snapchat streaks by taking pictures of their forehead. There should be an exception. Maybe if the student can’t keep their nose out of the screen, then they should be required to put their phone in Yondr. They can still keep their phone on their desk, but they can’t use it. They still have it, but it can’t be used.
A complete lockdown of phones could actually bring down grades. With everything slowly migrating online, students would get less down throughout the day. When I have something due at midnight, I am more likely to get it done during lunch and quickly turn it in before I forget.
What about when teachers play Kahoot? Would they unlock every individual phone before they play? Ultimately having less time to go over material? It would waste time. If teachers really want phone out of student’s reach, then have a bunch of calender pouches on the other side of the room. Take attendance with if the student put their phone in the designated pouch. That would motivate them. That also means that if the teacher plays Kahoot or an online review, then the students would get up, grab phones and sit back down.
Time would be wasted. Teachers would have less time to teach as they make sure everyone unlocks their pouch in an orderly fashion. I like the environment we have now, where each classroom is different from the other. Students have the choice to be distracted from their work. Students have the choice to check that Snapchat story. If they get in trouble for it, if their phone is taken away, that is their fault.
Other students shouldn’t have to sacrifice false security because of the few that can’t put it down.