Bill Shorten Supports 48-Hour Digital Detox Campaign in Australia

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By Vittorio Hernandez | March 24, 2014 9:40 AM EST

The Bully Zero Foundation launched over the weekend the 48-hour Digital Detox initiative at the Essendon Football Club's Tullamarine base to emphasise the lack of tolerance for online bullying.

Australians are encouraged during the two-day period to stay away from social media which has been a favourite tool for online bullying.  The roll out is on the same day as the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who supports the campaign, said that parents need more tools and skills to help cope with the problem. Among these are to talk about risks and boundaries with their kids and to set a good example.

The foundation said 20 per cent of people are bullied online via hateful remarks. Some of them, like Allem Halkic from Altona Meadows, who was 17 in 2009, was so affected that he took his own life. His mother Dina found out the cause of her son's suicide was the bullying when she read the messages on Allem's computer and mobile phone.

The foundation, even before it could reach its 1st anniversary, had prevented 12 other young people from following Allem through its awareness and education programme, said Oscar Yildiz, chief executive of Bully Zero.

While the kids are away from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine, Mr Yildiz urged the youth to go back to some of the things they miss out and take for granted because of too much time spent online.

Mr Shorten said he would give it a try for at least 24 hours, noting that, "Adults carry their smartphones around with them closer than they even carry their wallet these days ... Australia will not have a bad day if Australians turn off their social media."

He added that a 48-hour digital detox would do more good for Aussies' mental health than other options.

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