The UNICEF Tap Project is a campaign aimed at providing children world wide with clean drinking water. During World Water Month, they launched a revolutionary aspect to their campaign. Smartphone users could log onto their website for the tap project and participate in their “challenge”: how long can you go without your phone? To participate, you simply pull up the website on your phone and set your phone down. That is it. The longer you don’t touch your phone for, the more water UNICEF would donate to children in need. Once you pick up your phone, the website stops counting and resets itself after telling you how much water will be donated as a result of your efforts.
When I found out about this project, it blew me away. I started participating whenever I could, and I sent the link out to my swimming and diving team so that other people could know about it as well. In my mind, this challenge fought two issues in the world. The first, children not having access to clean drinking water. It also fought a second issue, which is our society’s overdependence on technology. Don’t get me wrong—I am just as guilty of over using my cell phone as anyone else. I have seen groups of people eating meals together when every person is on their cell phone and not paying attention to their friends. What if everyone could set them down, supporting a good cause, and just talk to each other?
I thought that this project really tapped into an idea with great potential. Not using your phone for just 10 minutes was enough to provide a child with clean drinking water for a day. Imagine the impact this project would have had if every single American with a smart phone set their phone down for 10 minutes. What about 20 minutes? An hour? What if every person in the world with a smart phone set down their phone while on this website for a simple 10 minutes a day? The results would be astounding. Now that World Water Month is over, UNICEF is no longer offering this challenge, but they are accepting donations to donate water to children in need. I think this donation model has the ability to make a huge impact in the world, and I hope other charities take notice of it. The biggest challenge in implementing this strategy to fight another problem in our world is finding a charity or organization to back the strategy. People may agree to set down their phone and not use it, but this would be useless if no one has agreed to do anything as a result of their efforts. Another challenge would be marketing the strategy so that people know to participate.
I’m not sure if UNICEF was the first organization to employ this strategy, but I certainly hope they are not the last. If this donation strategy catches on with other organizations, I am excited to see the impact it could have on our world. Not only would it be helping people in need, but it would also give people an incentive to set down their smartphones and actually have some real conversations. Revolutionary.