The new Pocket Points app, which rewards students for staying off their phone in class, highlights a growing issue in the millennial generation.
At CSU-Chicago, over 30 percent of the student body downloaded the app within the first month of its release. Students open the app at the beginning of class, lock their phone and earn points for each minute the phone remains locked. Those points can then be used at certain online stores and local food establishments, motivating college students in the same way one would reward a toddler for good behavior.
According to a study by Microsoft, the attention span for humans has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds. This means humans have a smaller attention span than a goldfish, which averages 9 seconds.
The same study showed that 77 percent of people from ages 18 to 24 answered “yes” when asked, “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,” compared with only 10 percent of those over the age of 65.
This impulse has expanded to the classroom as students zone out during lectures and explore the variety of social media platforms housed in their phones. As a result, the material examined during class is not absorbed.
Rob Richardson, co-founder and CEO of Pocket Points believes the key to reversing this effect is to offer students incentives while in class. That way they will be more likely to actually focus on the subject since they will be getting free food and discounts for gracing the material with their full attention.
The $41,000 USF students dish out for their degrees apparently is not incentive enough for most to learn in class. While not everyone is subject to this behavior, the fact that an app is being praised for helping incite so many students to learn is disheartening.
According to USA today, “almost 90 percent of millennials say their phones never leave their sides. The first thing that 80 percent of millennials do every morning is reach for their smartphones, and 78 percent spend more than two hours a day texting, surfing, talking, tweeting, shopping, banking and more.”
Millennials’ obsession with smartphones is in no way exclusively a bad thing. The advanced technology allows people to stay connected and perform tasks previously considered impossible. Information is available at one’s fingertips whenever he or she wants it. Smartphones are paving the way to the future and enjoying them is not what is condemning our generation.
The dependency millennials show towards their devices, however, is unsettling. It’s not surprising that other generations look harshly on ours. The success of Pocket Points shows we need rewards to learn material that we are not only paying for but is crucial for success in life.
It is time for the dependent and self-absorbed stereotype of the millennial demographic to die. Our generation will soon be the vanguard of society. Students need to take education seriously and prepare themselves for the real world, which we will be thrust into immediately upon graduation.
Millennials could become a revolutionizing force in society, but will undoubtedly fall short if we cannot get a grip on our impulses. Put the phone down, pay attention in class and show the world what our potential truly is.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.