Berkhamsted Group, Boys, Girls | 16.04.2024

Berkhamsted goes phone-free with Yondr

Berkhamsted goes phone-free with Yondr

Mobile phone usage and social media are common sources of teenage school pupils’ stress, sleep disturbances, and disengagement from school. Despite this, a recent study by The University of Cambridge showed that 48% of British teenagers feel addicted to social media.

In response to the damaging impacts of mobile phones and social media on the teenage brain, Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire minimises pupils’ dependency on their phones through Yondr Pouches. The Yondr Pouch restricts pupils from Years 7 to 11 from accessing their phones during the school day. The phone remains safely in pupils’ possession but is locked away until the end of the day when pouches can be unlocked with the specialised magnets around campus.

According to research by Yondr, more than 80% of schools using the pouches see an improvement in student mental health and engagement, while over 65% report better behaviour and academic results. After Yondr’s introduction to Berkhamsted in September 2023, pupils, staff, and parents have already noticed the benefits of pupils’ increased focus in class while and decreased dependency on their phones outside of school.

The initiative has been particularly popular among Berkhamsted’s prefects. At the girls’ school, Year 10 prefects like Gen G have been busy designing posters and planning speeches to convince their younger peers to go phone-free. “I felt that if pupils could hear about the benefits Yondr pouches from their peers instead of teachers, they may be able to relate to and understand these benefits,” says Gen. When asked why she thinks Yondr pouches are useful in School, Gen also reflects on the difference it has made to her social life, “Having your phone during school can make it tempting to text during break times instead of socialising in person, Yondr pouches prevent that”.

Over at the boys’ School, prefects have also been boasting about the positive effects of Yondr pouches on their mental, social, and academic development. Theo, a prefect for Greenes House, mentioned the benefits of Yondr pouches both inside and outside of school, “I have begun to use my phone less in the evenings after school. This means I get my homework done more efficiently, which is the biggest positive I have felt from Yondr Pouches. It has inspired me to create a rule for myself, in which I don’t take my phone out of my school bag until I complete my homework.”

Boys’ Prefects Tom and Archie added, “By temporarily disconnecting from digital distractions, pupils can be more present and in the moment. This can lead to deeper connections with others and a greater appreciation for the experiences happening around.”

On the introduction of Yondr Pouches to Berkhamsted girls, Headteacher Emma Watson says, “The introduction of Yondr has significantly simplified the school day, with improved relationships between pupils and a healthier approach to managing time and attention online. Parents and teachers have been extremely pleased with the project and students adapted quickly to the ‘new normal’”.

Whether in the classroom, at break time, or at home, Berkhamsted pupils have proven first-hand the social, emotional, and educational benefits of going phone-free.


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