Sydney, Australia (PressExposure) February 16, 2012 -- In an effort to stop the growing dependence on smart technology, a Sydney-based nonprofit is encouraging people around the world to avoid using smartphones for a few hours on February 26. The organization is urging adults and teenagers to spend from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. that day without using their smartphone.
The unique campaign is already receiving support from people in more than a dozen countries including the UK, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and the United States.
Well-known Australian parenting author Amanda Cox was one of the first to pledge her support for the cause, saying, "I realized I had a problem when I responded to a joke my husband told me with 'LOL' instead of laughing".
"Moodoff Day" is calling on smartphone users to get involved and pledge their support for the cause via their Facebook page and not use their smartphones for five hours on the last Sunday of February.
This is an opportune time to increase awareness of the issue, as people can participate as one of their resolutions for the first part of the year, according to campaign organizer Tapas Senapati. "If you want, you can extend the time until noon, but just don't browse as soon as you get up from bed without having tea/breakfast or spending time with your family," he said.
That means no early-morning texting, emailing, Web surfing or getting Facebook and Twitter updates. Instead, Senapati is asking people to donate their time to themselves and their family. They can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, share a conversation or go for a nice walk together-without the distractions of smartphone technology.
While individuals can engage in the "breakfast before browsing" campaign at home with their family, groups can also participate. Schools and universities can encourage students to join the campaign, and organizations can generate awareness among their employees. Officially, the initiative is appropriately named Moodoff Day because of the effect it will likely have on participants. Tapas explained, "When we ask somebody to stop browsing or checking their smartphone for a few minutes, it will probably turn their mood off."
Smart phones are a ubiquitous part of modern society, with iPhones, Blackberry devices and Android phones becoming increasingly-popular devices at home and work. Moodoff Day is designed to stimulate much-needed awareness about the potential for and dangers of excessive smartphone use, including addiction. Cell phone addicts have the urge to pull out their phone while having a conversation with others, constantly glance at their phone's screen, or feel anxious if they're not online for an extended time. A disproportionate amount of smartphone use can also cause a variety of health-related problems, such as trigger finger (tendinitis), cell phone elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome), and wrist and neck pain. In addition, 1.6 million accidents are caused each year by people talking and texting on their phone while driving.
The risk from constant smartphone use is significant among mobile workers, many of whom are required to respond to work-related emails when they're away from the office. Teenagers are also heavily attached to their smartphones. According to a recent survey by independent communication regulator Ofcom, one out of every three teenagers is likely to use their smartphones during mealtimes, and one in every five is likely to do so during a film or play-and even while using the bathroom.
Senapati was also motivated to launch Moodoff Day for personal reasons. He created the awareness campaign after realizing that he and his wife had become addicted to their smartphones and were interacting less frequently. He feels that reducing smartphone use can have a positive impact on families, as well as the entire community. "We're not against smartphones, but we want people to use them carefully and not be addicted to them," he said. "If I can only save one life by this awareness campaign, then I think it will be well worth it."
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