Could you actually ditch your smartphone for a year? Vitaminwater wants to find out, and it's willing to part with $100,000 if someone can rise to the challenge.
Vitaminwater launched a contest in December, offering one contestant the opportunity to end up with six figures should he or she be able to go a full year without engaging with a smartphone or tablet.
Over 100,000 people submitted entries via Twitter and Instagram, outlining what they'd do if they couldn't swipe or scroll for a year. After a comprehensive review, Vitaminwater named the company's chosen candidate on Friday, Feb.15: Elana Mugdan of Queens.
Mugdan, 30, submitted an infomercial-style video on Twitter that impressed the judges with its unique approach and humor. "She stood out for her originality and creative take on our challenge, " says Natalia Suarez, associate brand manager at Coca-Cola (Vitaminwater's parent company).
Mugdan is trading in her iPhone 5S for a Kyocera flip phone provided by Vitaminwater. For the next year, she can't use any smartphones or tablets at all, even those belonging to other people. She will be able to use laptops and desktop computers. Devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo are OK, too, as long as they're not hooked up to a smartphone.
Oh, and Vitaminwater will be verifying her honesty. Before receiving the money, Mugdan will need to submit to a lie-detector test.
Vitaminwater likes challenging monotony, Suarez, the company's associate brand manager, tells CNBC Make It. "We don't think there's anything more boring than mindlessly scrolling through your phone, and this is an opportunity to take that stance against routine and give someone $100,000 to do something uniquely awesome with their time," she says.
Sadly, the deck seems stacked against any young contestant. Over 92 percent of millennials own a smartphone, according to the latest Pew Research Center data. Even overwhelming majorities of Gen-Xers and baby boomers carry one at this point (85 percent and 67 percent, respectively).
And smartphones play an out-sized role in millennials' daily lives, according to Gallup polling. About eight in 10 of them use them to accomplish everyday tasks, such as managing their finances, paying bills, shopping online, and watching or listening to online content.
Those between the ages of 18 and 34 spend over two and a half hours a day just consuming entertainment content on their smartphones, according to the latest 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report. And a poll earlier this year found that 43 percent of millennials say they check their phone at least every 20 minutes.
Almost half of millennials specifically report using their cell phones now much more than a year ago. One CNBC Make It staffer gave up her smartphone for just a week and found she needed nine extra items to replace her iPhone, including an iPod, hand-drawn maps, a stopwatch and an alarm clock.
Still, Mugdan says she's up for the challenge.
"I really need to get better with the human interaction aspect of my life," she says. "I think being without the phone and having to navigate the social waters on my own without the use of technology will be a really great learning experience for me, actually."
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