Schools in 41 States Spend Millions on Phone Pouches

( – Teachers across the country have complained about technology in their classrooms. Even though many schools don’t allow kids to use their phones during school hours, the devices continue to be a problem. A California start-up has come up with a solution.

Graham Dugoni invented pouches in 2014 that were a little larger than a cell phone. A phone is placed in the pouch and can only be opened with a specialized magnet, making the device inaccessible. When Dugoni started his company, Yondr, he told NBC News that he would travel door-to-door, selling them to schools and concert venues. At the time, schools weren’t very interested, but that has changed big time.

In the last eight years, school districts in a whopping 41 states have purchased the pouches. Most of those sales have happened since May 2022. The San Mateo-Foster City School District in California is one of those districts. Superintendent Diego Ochoa described the district as the “Wild, Wild West” with phones.

A study from Common Sense Media found that about half of the kids ages 11 to 17 surveyed received more than 230 notifications every day, and 25% came during school hours.

According to Ochoa, the students were recording each other’s locker rooms and bullying one another, and that’s when officials had enough. They introduced the idea to parents during meetings and then began requiring them at the district’s four middle schools. Ochoa said the students bring their pouches home and then back to school. As they walk into the school, they tap their pouches on the locking mechanism kept near the entryway. When they leave school, they tap it again to unlock it.

The district allows parents to call the school to reach their kids if there’s an emergency. The schools have exceptions for kids who need their phones for important reasons, like glucose monitoring. Overall, Ochoa said the pouches have been “an unquestioned success.”

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