Pocket Aces: Commitment and Incentives Against Smartphones for Students
Last registered on October 14, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Pocket Aces: Commitment and Incentives Against Smartphones for Students
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003329
Initial registration date
September 17, 2018
Last updated
October 14, 2019 10:07 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of California Davis
PI Affiliation
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2018-09-01
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Nearly half of US smartphone owners make an effort to limit their use, but only 30% succeed. Usage is particularly high among teens, who spend an average of nine hours per day on their phones. Studies have linked increased smartphone usage to decreased sleep, lower student learning, and negative worker productivity. This study centers on a series of field experiments conducted with Pocket Points, an app that acts as a commitment device and provides tangible incentives to students for curtailing smartphone usage. Students open the app, lock their phone, and start accumulating “points” while the app verifies the student’s location and activity using GPS coordinates. Points can then be used to get discounts at participating businesses. A pilot study found that students randomly encouraged to use Pocket Points at Texas A&M experienced positive academic outcomes, including higher grades and improved in-class focus. In this study, we implement a series of treatment arms across multitude universities to incentivize staying off the phone while in the classroom as well as during sleep hours. Outcomes will be collected through app usage, surveys (e.g. sleep quality), GPS coordinates (e.g. time spent on campus), and transcripts (e.g. course grades).
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Aksoy, Billur, Scott Carrell and Lester Lusher. 2019. "Pocket Aces: Commitment and Incentives Against Smartphones for Students." AEA RCT Registry. October 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3329-4.0.
Former Citation
Aksoy, Billur et al. 2019. "Pocket Aces: Commitment and Incentives Against Smartphones for Students." AEA RCT Registry. October 14. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3329/history/55097.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
This study consists of two pilots (one at Texas A&M and another one at University of Hawaii at Manoa). For the pilot studies, students will be recruited to participate in an online study. Approximately half will then be encouraged to download and use the Pocket Points app. At the end of the semester, both treatment and control students will complete a survey, and all students upon signing up for the experiment agree to release their academic transcripts. We will also conduct a large scale expansion of our pilot studies with multiple treatment arms to college students across the US. For the large scale expansion, app users will be randomly assigned to one of the treatment arms: Control group, cash group (receives additional monetary incentives to use the app), information group (receives information about the effectiveness of Pocket Points usage on schooling outcomes from the pilot studies), sleep mode group (receives additional monetary incentives to use the app during sleep hours).
Intervention Start Date
2018-09-24
Intervention End Date
2021-10-04
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Self-reported outcomes (e.g. class attendance, focus in the classroom, sleep behavior, restfulness, anxiety, depression), as well as academic outcomes collected via transcripts.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
For the pilot studies, randomization will be carried out at the individual student level, with each student being randomized into treatment or control. Treatment students will be nudged to use the Pocket Points app, while control students will receive no intervention.
For the large scale expansion: app users will be randomly assigned to one of the treatment arms: Control group, cash group (receives additional monetary incentives to use the app), information group (receives information about the effectiveness of Pocket Points usage on schooling outcomes from the pilot studies), sleep mode group (receives additional monetary incentives to use the app during sleep hours).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Electronically on Excel
Randomization Unit
Individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
2,000 students for TAMU pilot, 1,000 students for Hawaii pilot, and 2,660 for the large scale expansion
Sample size: planned number of observations
3,000 students for the pilots and 2,660 for the expansion
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
For the pilot studies: approximately 50% in each treatment arm
For the expansion: approximately 25% in each treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Texas A&M Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2017-07-26
IRB Approval Number
IRB2017-0473D
IRB Name
University of Hawaii Human Studies Program
IRB Approval Date
2019-08-23
IRB Approval Number
2019-00526
Analysis Plan

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