EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) — Students at one Twin Cities middle school are putting their phones away during the school day.

It’s part of a pilot program for eighth graders at South View Middle School in Edina. It’s in an effort to help students understand how potentially addictive smart technology can be.

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Phones are sometimes out between classes at South View Middle School.

“People check it for a lot of things just to go on Snapchat or Instagram or other social media, to text their friends or something,” student Will Meyer said.

But it’s in the classroom where a cell phone can be a real distraction.

“It competes and so when there’s that competition I know well enough that I’m going to lose when there’s something else socially going on,” teacher Caitlin Bailey said.

The school has a no cell from bell to bell policy. Principal Tim Anderson decided to launch a “digital use awareness” pilot program for eighth graders for two days at a time.

“Just to become more aware of the degree to which they’re tempted to be on their phones and just activate their reflective side of is this impacting my learning at all,” Anderson said.

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At the beginning of the school day, students put their phone in a locked pouch. They keep it with them, but it will only be unlocked at the end of the day or in case of emergency.

“I was kind of upset at first. I liked having my phone around just in case,” student Libby Strittmater said.

“It was kind of weird because I wanted to see if I got any messages or check the time and I was like ‘Oh wait I can’t,’” student Siri Lamont said.

A couple students broke open the magnetic pouch but so far, most have found value in the exercise.

“It’s making me more patient and I know I can wait for this,” student Nyjah Robinson said.

“I’ve been off my phone a lot more so I think that’s helped me to pay attention more in class,” Meyer said.

“Ultimately we want kids learning as much as they can while they’re under our care so if there’s some promise to this technology, we want to pursue that,” Anderson said.

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The school hopes the program will help manage the use of technology at school. After the pilot program ends next week, the principal will consider if it makes sense to use the pouches during targeted times.

Jennifer Mayerle