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Switching off and loving it

Switching off and loving it!

Last Sunday, to participate in International Moodoff Day, nearly twenty thousand smart phone users around the world switched their phones off for 5 hours in order to become aware of their smart phone habits, responding to the call for ‘Smart Hours for Smart People without Smart Phones’.

The Australian born not-for-profit initiative Moodoff Day encourages people to do without smart phones for a stretch of time to realise the compulsive and addictive habits they have developed and the impact these have in daily life.

While smart phones provide mobility and flexibility in communication, whether for work, pleasure or to stay in touch with family and friends, they also can interrupt conversations, meal times and meetings. Responding to one’s phone at those times seems to have become a common trend.

Tapas Senapati, the founder of Moodoff Day said, “We are not against smart phones, quite the opposite, we simply want to help people become aware of how they use their smart phones and the impact this has.”

Since smart phones have the capacity to take messages and store social media up-dates we don’t actually need to respond to them as soon as they beep. Research shows that many avid smart phone users check for up-dates as frequently as every ten minutes and experience anxiety when separated from their phone. Both indicate compulsive and addictive behaviour around the use of smart phones.

The most dangerous trend of habitual use of mobile phones is the use while driving, with 30% percent of young drivers in Australia admitting to texting while driving, according to a study by the George Institute. An estimated 11.2 million texts where sent while driving in 2011.

This year’s Moodoff Day had a following of nearly twenty thousand people from around Australia and 42 other countries including the UK, Germany, France, India, Singapore, New Zealand and the US. A giant sand sculpture in support of the event was also created by a team of artists at Puri Beach, India.

Karolina Lovrinic, an Executive Assistant with a major retail chain in Sydney, chose to spend her Sunday without her Nokia smart phone by enjoying a lengthy lunch with family and friends talking and reminiscing over family photos.

“I found it really easy to switch my phone off and actually loved it. However, I felt a sense of anxiety not having it close by.”

Simone Roseler from Brisbane also switched her phone off, attending a community dance followed by lunch with a girl friend. “The dancing helped me to not think of my phone, and even over lunch I didn’t miss it at all. I actually liked being free of it for a change.”

Moodoff Day founder Tapas Senapati attended a barbeque at Nurragingy Reserve with thirty five guests, all of whom had willingly placed their phone into a box to enjoy food and conversation without phones. Twenty five guests had started their smart phone free time first thing in the morning and shared that it had been the first time in over five years to not browse before breakfast.

Even the younger generation got involved in Moodoff Day with Rudra Sahu and Pratham Sheshgiri, both 7 years old, going without their usual dose of Angry Birds, common to their weekend habits. While they did ask repeatedly whether the time was up yet, they did enjoy the phone-free stint, much to the delight of their parents. Another guest started to get anxious after three hours, checking the remaining time every few minutes. With the support from his friends, he realised just how addicted he is to his smart phone.

Moodoff Day was launched last year and is held annually. The initiative is dedicated to help smart phone ‘addicts’ to recognise the need to create more balanced habits around how they use their smart phone. For more information about the ongoing Moodoff Day campaign, log onto www.moodoffday.org and ‘Like’ them on facebook.



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