The non-profit organization Fone Free Feb is aiming to untether people form their smartphones during the next month.
In the spirit of Dry July and other movements, the charity is encouraging people to sign up and put down their phones for intermittent periods during the month of February.
Australia is one of the most connected countries on the planet when it comes to mobile devices, according to the 2013 Telstra smartphone index. Our perpetual need to keep in touch can cause serious health and social issues according to some global research statistics.
One of these issues is a new syndrome called ‘phantom vibration anxiety’ where users answer their phones they thought were ringing when in fact they were not.
In 2012 Telecommunications company Cisco released a connected world technology report that surveyed 1,800 workers and university students in 18 countries. The survey found that 60 per cent of Gen-Y respondents compulsively check their smartphones.
More than two out of five respondents reported feeling anxious and incomplete if they were not able to check their phones regularly. Two of three said that they spent an equal or greater amount of time interacting with friends online rather than in person.
The charity's website is philosophical regarding the issue and states: “In the age of mass stimulation, we must ﬁght the urge to give in to the quick ﬁx, and push our minds to maintain the ability to continue to think deeply, wonder widely, and imagine what’s possible.”
Fone Free Feb chief executive, Jack Manning Bancroft insisted “it isn’t about getting rid of technology, but making sure that we control technology, not the other way around.”
“Often we are so constantly connected to our phones that we’re not present in the moment. We fail to truly connect with the people and environment around us. We miss that magic one liner at the dinner table, that subtle smile mid conversion, or that amazing one-on-one connection with the live musician.”
The charity says individuals can sign themselves up or opt to sponsor friends and family through a variety of commitment packages. Each package contains different periods of phone free time and sign up fees based on individual usage. That money is said to go to charities that promote good health and well being such as: CanTeen, Royal Fair West and YMCA.