If students put their phones away for long enough, they can earn Franklin Street discounts.
Pocket Points is a mobile app that debuted on campus in the fall of 2015. It rewards students for not using their phones in class by giving them points to unlock coupons for local businesses.
“The main purpose of Pocket Points is to enhance the students’ learning experience, as well as generate more business in the community by helping the business owners get the students more involved with the businesses,” said co-founder Mitch Gardner.
Gardner said 5,000 UNC students are using Pocket Points.
Gardner said he and co-founder Rob Richardson thought of the idea for the app in 2014 while attending California State University, Chico. They noticed a problem with students focusing more on their phones than on their teachers.
“The teachers come into it as well because if the students are not on their phones in class, it is a more productive class," Gardner said. "It’s just that win-win-win where the students are winning, the teachers are winning, and the small businesses are winning.”
Isabelle Morgan, a sophomore math and economics major, said she has used Pocket Points several times at Jasmin Mediterranean Bistro.
“I definitely think it’s helpful to stay off your phone,” Morgan said. “It’s just an extra incentive to stay focused in class because that way you can, obviously, get money in a sense.”
Journalism professor Rhonda Gibson said she finds phone usage particularly disturbing in large classroom settings.