Rehab for the Smartphone

Bucking the trend of technology that allows people to tell everyone that they’ve checked into their local restaurant, cafe or bar, Reboot has developed a smartphone app that helps users “check out” of the internet altogether. The app ironically will use technology to shut down technology.

Think of it as rehab for the smartphone. By using technology, the Sabbath Manifesto app is intended to spur a massive movement away from technology on the National Day of Unplugging, March 4-5, 2011 and beyond, and a return to the values inherent in a modern day of rest: reconnecting with family, friends and the world around them.

The inverse of tools like FourSquare that allow you to check into a venue or location and notify friends where you are, the new Sabbath Manifesto app, for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other smartphones, announces to your social networks and online community through Facebook and Twitter that you are unplugging and will not be available online.

Reboot, a non-profit organization that aims to reinvent Jewish rituals and traditions, developed the National Day of Unplugging (NDU) to encourage young, hyper-connected, and frequently frantic people of all backgrounds to re-embrace the ancient beauty of a day of rest. It runs for the 25 hours from sundown Friday, March 4, to sundown, Saturday, March 5.

The first NDU last March reached tens of millions of people internationally. And it resonated with people of all backgrounds, from Catholic to Buddhist and Muslim. Since then, unplugging has become the movement of the moment, with everyone from The New York Times to Arianna Huffington focusing attention on our overly plugged-in society.

AOL’s 2010 study on email usage found that 47 percent of respondents are hooked on email, 59 percent check email in the bathroom and 60 percent check email on vacation. Kids are afflicted too. In a recent survey by security software maker AVG of children between the ages of two and five from the United States and countries around the world, 19 percent of parents reported that their kids could access a Smartphone application but only 9 percent said their kids could tie their shoes. And a 2010 Nielsen study found that teenagers are sending or receiving an average of 3,339 texts a month.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia are offering special deals for the 2011 National Day of Unplugging (NDU) to those who tuck their phones into a special cell phone sleeping bag when they walk in the door. And VolunteerMatch.org, the Web’s most popular volunteering network, is highlighting service opportunities to encourage NDU participants to “Unplug and Give Back” with one of its 75,000 participating nonprofit organizations.

The day is being sponsored by One Happy Camper, a program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Additional funding is being provided by the Koret Foundation.

The NDU, rooted in the tradition of the Sabbath, is guided by Reboot’s Sabbath Manifesto, an ongoing project that encourages people to slow down their lives by embracing its 10 principles once a week: Avoid Technology; Connect With Loved Ones; Nurture Your Health; Get Outside; Avoid Commerce; Light Candles; Drink Wine; Eat Bread; Find Silence; Give Back.

The Sabbath Manifesto was designed to be entirely open to individual adaptation and interpretation. So Reboot’s new smartphone app allows users to create and share their personal Sabbath Manifesto with their friends and the public. Reboot expects to release the app by Feb. 25, a week before the NDU.

Interested? Text REBOOT at 738674 to be notified when the App is available.

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