With the number of consumers now being ‘glued’ to their technological devices, particularly smartphones, rapidly growing, so too grows the concern for health and safety. With a survey conducted by Huawei and Decibel Research showing that the average person spends two and a half hours on their phone a day (or 38 full days a year), Smartphone addiction is, and has been for many years, a very real and prevalent issue – one that has often been under-addressed and overlooked.
Over the years, there has been an increase of road-related incidents and fatalities as a direct result of phone usage while driving. And, while authorities are working hard to crack down on this, fining those who are caught, the addiction runs much deeper and affects other aspects of our lives. While some of these effects might seem insignificant, like the desire to ‘walk and text’ and ‘post photos to Instagram before we eat’, it’s also affecting sleep patterns (sleep-depravation), decreasing our ability to be ‘present’ in social settings, hindering our social skills and enabling social media ‘trollers’ to use their online presence to slander, abuse, and bully.
Dolly Everett, the young girl in Australia who committed suicide recently due to online bullying, is sadly just one among many who have now become a victim to the effects of cyberbullying as a result of smartphone and technology addictions – sparking the age-old question: are we hurting our society, more than we are helping it? With the global population this is owning a smartphone on a continuous incline, there has never been a more immediate time to raise the issue.
Tapas Senepati, founder and spokesperson for MoodOff (harm prevention organization) hopes that their annual event, MoodOff Day on February 25th, will help reduce technology-related incidents and act as a reminder about the prevalence of smartphone addiction.
“Being ‘present’ is such a foreign concept to many people now – and it’s affecting our children and youth. We are teaching our kids that technology is more important than so many other things – like quality family-time, education, conversation and even basic things like spending time outside in nature in the sun,” he says.
“Another issue is, that we are also giving our children free reign to uncensored and unmonitored platforms where they are being exposed to potentially damaging and negatively influencing content and bullying.”
With MoodOff Day (Smartphone addiction awareness day) taking place on 25 February, Tapas and the team are hoping to reach out to the smartphone-using population and shine a spotlight on the growing epidemic that is smartphone addiction.
“Ever year MoodOff host’s a “Breakfast before Browsing” campaign where we encourage people to have a morning (5 hours) without their phones and be completely present in their life. Whether that be having coffee with a friend, breakfast with the family or just going out and engaging with the world around them in real-time not virtually.”
MoodOff Day is fast approaching, and it’s time to get involved. Visit www.moodoffday.org to make your pledge to go without your phone for 5 hours, donate, show support and share the initiative in order to help others realise their own level of addiction. MoodOff Day has recently started a Go-Fund-Me campaign to raise funds for the cause and to increase their campaigns and events– including a national school-based education program, directly addressing online bullying.
Moodoff Day is not about condemning or banning smartphones or their use, but to bring to the forefront just how dependent we have grown to our devices and largely interact with the world through them more than not.
While five hours without your phone may not change the world, it will open up a discussion about smartphone addiction, help contextualize how dependent we are on our phones, remind people what being ‘present’ really is, and encourage others to follow suit. If we can reduce the impact these devices have on our lives, such as while driving or in cyberbullying, then it is surely a worthy cause.