Since 2007, the UNICEF Tap Project has helped children worldwide gain access to clean water. For 2014, the UNICEF Tap Project challenges you to save a child's life by putting down your phone. That’s right, for every ten minutes you don't touch your phone, UNICEF will provide one day of clean water to a child in need.

Sponsored by Giorgio Armani, this novel form of digital altruism has merit beyond the obvious good of providing water. By helping us become more aware of our digital habits, the campaign brings our attention a subject with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual repercussions. The campaign is a good excuse to ask ourselves just how addicted we are? And at what cost?

Jeff Beer of Co.Create had the opportunity to interview the campaign’s Droga5 creators, Brian Moore and Johan Gerdin. They shared their inspiration for the “disconnect” approach with him:

"Putting yourself in the shoes of someone else is hard, especially when they're a child halfway across the globe," says Gerdin. "Taking something away from yourself at the very least allows you to reflect. One of the reasons why the UNICEF Tap Project continues to resonate with people is because we keep tying the campaign back to everyday situations that help people relate to the cause better."

If you’re looking for a way to encourage your tweens and teens to monitor their digital habits, why not suggest they participate in the campaign? Better yet, why not participate together? Consider using the ten-minute smartphone hiatus to slowdown, breathe, and become more mindful of your surroundings.

If you like the experience, I recommend adding The Distraction Addiction to your reading list. In this book author, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, shows us how we can “approach information technologies in a way that is mindful and nearly effortless and that contributes to our ability to focus, be creative, and be happy.” He calls this approach “contemplative computing” and demonstrates a conscious approach to digital technology that’s worth embracing. 

To learn more or to participate:

Digital Altruism

Cultivating compassion in the 21st century.
Dana Klisanin Ph.D.

Dana Klisanin, Ph.D., is an award-winning psychologist exploring the use of media and digital technologies to support human flourishing. Her research focuses on mindfulness, altruism, and new forms of heroism.

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