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Students and Teachers are "Over" Yondr... Here's Why

Grace Rose '19
28 January 2019


During this school year, the Yondr policy has been expanded to every classroom in Passaic Valley after being deemed "successful" during the 8 classroom pilot last year. However, students and teachers are convinced Yondr was not worth the hefty $15,000 price tag.

Yondr is a company that provides small, neoprene pouches that lock with a pin and can only be opened with a Yondr magnetic device. Yondr’s mission, according to their website, “is to create phone-free spaces for artists, educators, organizations and individuals.” Passaic Valley's Yondr Policy, requires students to put their cellphones in the pouch at the beginning of class, leave the pouch on the desk during class, and then unlock it at the end of class. This system seems like the best of both worlds as it still allows students to have the safety blanket of knowing where their cellphone is, but be free of the consuming distraction. Currently, the Yondr System is being used in over 600 schools in the country. 

A common complaint of students is that they don’t have the ability to text a parent if they forget something at home, different after-school plans, or of a safety concern. “I don’t like that I can’t text my mom if something comes up and she needs to know,” said Jessica Gaita ‘19. Removing this communication leads to increased risk of more parent phone calls to PV and confusion. 

Less than 50% of teachers are requiring students to use the Yondr pouches, estimates Mr. Meluso. Why? Teachers know the problems with the Yondr system firsthand. “I tried the pouches, but found them to be awkward, time-consuming, and not full-proof,” said a teacher who asks to be anonymous. “Because the pouches were new, it took several tries for the magnet to unlock them. Times that by twenty students and it eats up class time.” Students are 

Some students have also destroyed the pouches by bending the pins so that they can no longer be locked. Mr. Anthony Meluso, network adminstrator, remarked, "No they are not worth it, I spent so much time unbending the pins... our staff and students are just unresponsive." Yondr Pouches not in use; photo credit: Grace Rose '19

A larger reason why PV implemented the Yondr System was try to curve students away from the cell phone addiction. “When I walk through the senior caf, there was 15 kids.. No one was talking they were all on their phone,” said Mr. Meluso. Mr. Meluso and the administration would rather see students having real conversations and making real-life memories. During lunch, students use that free period of time for homework, studying, etc… a lot of which requires access to the Internet and Google Services. “It takes a lot to break that [cell phone] addiction and that was what Yondr was about… and it won.”

Trying to "solve the problem," though has good intentions, just is not feasible for this generation of students. Kids and adults alike rely on their cell phones. Trying to break that mold can't fall on a school. Cell phones are part of this age and this culture.

A lot of the learning experience falls on the student regardless of a cell phone being used. A teacher can’t “make” a student learn, but they can enforce discipline if a student is distracted and rude. “And that is really what it is. It’s rude, if you’re in class you have a person up there that is paid- your parents technically pay for you to be here with taxes… and what are you [the student] doing with yourself?” said Mr. Meluso. Teachers deal with this behavior on an everday basis, and it comes down to the teacher taking control of his/her class... not a Yondr pouch. "It is almost impossible to institutionally reverse the habits of students when it comes to their phone use... it is an individual decision on behalf of the student," said another anonymous teacher. "Even the punishment of having their phone taken away, with their parents having to come to school to retrieve it, does not deter most students."

Yondr does promote integrity in the classroom setting as students can’t use their cell phones to cheat during class- texting other students, looking up answers, etc. At the same time, though, teachers should be more diligent of their students. Cheating will occur with or without phones, and Yondr isn’t going to solve it.

Cell phone addiction is not a $15,000 problem for schools to fix. It’s ingrained in the culture of today’s youth. Prior disciplinary action should still be implemented when students are just "plain-rude", but there needs to be some leniency. Cell phones are useful tools for communicating and getting homework done.