Remember in high school when you were assigned a sack of flour and you had to treat it as your baby for a week? This social project has just turned mobile, with DoSomething.org's new effort. Since May 14 and until June 4, you can turn your child or friend's cell phone into a virtual baby for 12 hours, teaching them how much work a baby actually entails. DoSomething.org's Pregnancy Text campaign aims to address the fact that America has the highest teenage pregnancy rate of any developed country and attempt to do something about it.
Here's how it works: Go to the Pregnancy Text Web page and enter five people's cell phone numbers, then press submit. Your friends will then receive a text saying their phone will be taken over by a virtual baby for the next 12 hours. The cell phone alerts when the "baby" needs food, sleep or diaper changing. Since the phone is hijacked, there's virtually no way to turn the baby off. We could see this being used to prank someone in a nasty way.
There are a few limitations to the experiment, though: Teens are so used to taking their cell phones everywhere and getting constant alerts, this may not really affect them. And while the sack of flour method is kind of old school, it at least was roughly the weight of a baby, so you could get an idea of how it feels to carry around a living thing all day. Cell phones are extremely light, so teens won't have to endure this part of raising a baby. The most obvious limitation? This isn't a real baby, so you're not actually changing a gross, dirty diaper or having a baby spit up on you after you feed him or her.
At the end of the challenge, you're encouraged to enter five more cell phone numbers in to let your friends experience the joy of having a child. Whenever you enter in friends' cell numbers, you'll be entered for a chance to win a $2,o00 scholarship.
It's a cool idea, but it remains to be seen how effective the campaign is. And the way DoSomething.org is spinning it, with phrases like "Sign up your guy friends for a day of funny text messages" and "Mess with your friends and put a baby in their phone," raises speculation to how serious the organization really is about the cause.