The Current

Why Jully Black wants kids to put down their phones and make a connection

A lot of people would agree that they spend too much time staring at a screen — but many of us still have a hard time tearing ourselves away. We talk to Canadian singer Jully Black, the spokesperson for the 2019 campaign Unplug to Connect.

The Canadian singer rethought her relationship with social media — and wants others to do the same

Canadian R&B artist Jully Black is the spokesperson for the 2019 campaign Unplug to Connect. (CBC)

Read Story Transcript

Canadian singer-songwriter Jully Black says the death of her mother forced her to re-examine her priorities, including the amount of time she spends online.

"I say my mom's last breath became my first breath, and so [now] I take time to breathe and really feel the ground under my feet," said Black.

Part of that was making the time she spends online more meaningful.

A few years ago, she took four months off all social media, after she felt that social media was "mastering" her. When she went back online, she unfollowed 5,000 people on her social media accounts, and poured the time she regained into focusing on health and nutrition.

Now she's trying to help young people do the same.

Black is the spokesperson for the 2019 campaign Unplug to Connect, which asks young people to put down their devices for at least one hour a day and focus on the people around them IRL ("in real life," for those unversed in internet lingo).

Launching today, it's organized by the Boys and Girls Club of Canada.

Black thinks our focus on our devices can prevent us from forming meaningful connections, and worries that kids who are growing up in the digital age are missing out.

"I recognize that it's time for me to really flip it, and serve the next generation," she told The Current's guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.

"I'm 41 years old, so if I can help an 18-year-old not be this way by 41, that I'm doing my job."

To discuss the impact of our screens on our lives, Chattopadhyay also spoke with Jenny Odell, an artist and author of How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Danielle Carr.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.