Office Depot Rewarding College Students Who Resist Their Smartphones During Class

Image courtesy of ANguyenPhoto

While no one on the Consumerist staff has been in college in, uh, some time, we can imagine it must be tough to focus on education when you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, just begging you to play KandyKaboozle or text your friend a few seats away. There are some out there who can resist, however, and for those strong-willed folks, Office Depot has a new rewards program that lets students earn points toward discounts.

The office supply chain says it’s teamed up with an app called Pocket Points for the new program, which lets them earn points that can be redeemed for coupons that can be used on school and dorm supplies in Office Depot’s online store.

To demonstrate the need for such anti-distraction efforts, the chain points to a 2013 University of Nebraska-Lincoln study that says college students spend about 20% of their class time using digital devices for unrelated activities.

“This is a win-win for users of the app and our company to reach students on this popular platform,” said Diane Nick, senior vice president of marketing for Office Depot. “In addition to helping students maintain good classroom habits throughout the year, Office Depot wants to provide them with access to savings on the gear they need to succeed.”

Students lock their phones with the app, which then monitors the phone’s location, granting points only when the phone is locked while they’re somewhere on campus that indicates they’re learning, and not, say, at a bar nearby, or non-academic buildings like dormitories. The app has time limits set to keep a snoozing student from racking up points while asleep, as well.

The app can’t guarantee that students aren’t messing around on their laptops in class, of course, but hey, one impossible task at a time, right?

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