UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) has devised a rather ingenious way for people to help out in a way that is simple but probably also difficult for some. With the Tap Project, every minute you spend not using your mobile device will be matched by a day of clean water from one of UNICEF’s sponsors.

There have been various satirical videos or photos that have pointed out people’ sometimes obsessive attachment to their smartphones or tablets. Some can barely let go of their device, much less look up to appreciate the things around them. For some, being estranged from their dear device is already requires great deal of sacrifice and that is something UNICEF wants to harness for this endeavor.

Joining is actually quite easy, simply go to the project website and follow the instructions. Lay down your device on the a flat surface and leave it there for a while as you accumulate minutes that get translated into days of clean water thanks to sponsors. Technically, the web app uses the device’s accelerometer to determine if the device is being used or not. As such, you can actually still touch and swipe your device without triggering the sensor. Do take note that your device’s display won’t turn off while the app is running, so there might be some battery drain involved as well.

The concept and particularly the challenge is almost so simple that it sounds ridiculous. Given the mechanics mentioned, it might also be easy to game the activity as well. Of course, UNICEF is also accepting cash donations, along the lines of $1 for 40 days of clean water, that will let you help provide safe, clean water without detaching your hand from your smartphone.


  • sutz

    Seriously?? We need to use an app in some twisted sick marketing campaing so others less fortunate can (
    *may*) have clean water??? Its not a freaking human, not to mention, EVERY LIVING THING basic need?
    And they even dare to point out *we* spend alot of time in a hobbie?

    • Wade Stubblefield

      I do question the validity of the proposition. Why would they do something selfless when I’m not moving my phone? And if you read the text, it says, “…our sponser can provide…” “Can provide.” I know how can works. We all do. Can you get me a ride home? Well of course I can … do you want one? Can is not Will. Can defines potential. Will defines commitment. UNICEF doesn’t have to commit it’s potential.

      I’m not a cynical person though. This is simply an observation of grammatical usage and a question into the disparity of actions between 1 minute of no phone usage and a whole day of water for a child. It just seems too exponential. I would more easily believe that they are already giving that much water and more, but were trying to relate to us how easy it is for them to give.

      Perhaps it’s a marketing strategy to encourage our thoughts into their program.

    • Mia

      It’s still a great way to spread awareness, especially to the youth. Campaigns like Unicef DO make a change in people’s lives.

  • Bassem Bassiouny

    The only problem with this is if you try to turn off your screen, it stops counting, so you’re supposed to leave the screen on the entire time? That not only wastes energy, but it makes the phone heat up and may damage the screen.

  • Jocelyn

    “might be some battery drain involved as well” – um, YES. I started with over 80% battery and within 2 hours of running the app my battery was dead.

    • Emily

      mine ran for 6.5 hours and still had plenty of juice.

  • someonewhocares

    Agreed. Another thought is that they can just donate or they can donate and let others feel helpful and spread the word about the need (mostly to the younger generations who don’t know yet and have phones). Feeling like they helped will inspire more giving.
    For his money he is buying clean water, awareness and a ripple effect of other donors.

  • emily

    it use to be 1 minute. i was doing it and earned per minute. it recently changed to 10 minutes. maybe they didn’t expect such a high interest in this tap project

  • Mark

    What are the tablets they use to clean the water?