I recently stumbled upon a thought provoking awareness campaign around providing clean water and adequate sanitation to children in need around the world.
The UNICEF Tap Project has partnered with Giorgio Armani to donate a day's worth of clean water for every 10 minutes you don't use your cellphone.
Intrigued, I went to the website to try it out on my phone.
Upon clicking begin at tap.unicefusa.org, they instruct you to put your phone down.
I put down my phone.
The screen turns blue and a timer starts on the bottom of the screen. After a bit, a slideshow of information about the project begins to tell how many others in your state are helping as well as facts such as "Today more people have access to mobile phones than toilets" and an encouraging countdown to get to 10 minutes and how close you are to this month's record time (277 hours - I wasn't close).
Even a brag that 5,000 selfies have been uploaded while you chose to help children have access to clean water by not using your phone. Many of the messages ended with a little line of text that said "Right now, you're helping too!" I can appreciate that they're choosing to focus on the help being given instead of trying to make me feel guilty for the hours that I don't have this app running on my phone.
On one hand, this is a really innovate way to help get the word out about what is a tragic issue that should probably concern us more. It's use of the phone screen while you're not using your phone is a really great platform to educate the user on the problem while subtly reminding us that going without a phone for 10 minutes compared to children going without clean water seriously pales in comparison.
Part of me wants to celebrate that UNICEF is looking for ways to increase awareness while allowing everyday Joes to feel part of the solution - especially while getting people off their darn cell phones. The other part of me cringes in thinking that there is access to this clean water that is not being given unless I go to the app and set my phone down.
I first heard about this endeavor from The Higher Learning Project. The comments on the blog were split right down the middle. Some believed this to be a great way to bring awareness to a global issue. Other were offended that water was available that wasn't being donated. Sounds a bit like this article here I have my apprentices read when we're learning about what Fair Trade is all about - especially similar to #4 in the article.
One comment from that article that really resonated with me is this:
"The point is not DON'T GIVE. The point is THINK about the bigger picture before you GIVE. Informed people should make more responsible decisions."
I pick up my phone - it's time to go to a meeting and I'm only half way convinced that I was helping children in need.
Are there better uses of technology to bring awareness to global problems?
Do we have any excuse in this day and age to not be informed people?
How do you go about making responsible decisions around giving time. energy, or financial resources to charities?
Author: Jen Lewis is Owner & Director of Purse & Clutch. You can connect with Jen on Google+. She has been running P&C since 2011, and gets excited about connecting resources to needs.