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Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 13:01 GMT
Charity calls for 'net-free' day
Internet users at their terminals, BBC
Net users told "leave the virtual world - try the real one"
Computer users are being urged to take a break from the screen this Sunday by an internet-based charity which is calling for a worldwide net-free day.

The idea behind the second International Internet-Free Day is to persuade people to leave their PCs at home and get out into the "real world".


It's about creating a balance between the web and the real world

Stephanie Venery
Promoter, Net-Free Day
Ironically, the call is being made by an internet-based group, Do Be, which provides free bulletin boards where people can propose events, groups and meetings for others to sign up for.

Do Be wants individuals or organisations to arrange events where "participants can make a real contribution, feel recognised as unique individuals and perhaps form friendships with others who share their interests".

Launched in September 2000, the non-profit website DoBe.org carries listings for more than 10,000 cities all over the world.

'Turn it off'

Stephanie Venery, a spokeswoman for Do Be's London site, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are basically trying to persuade people for just one day to do something, anything, that involves the real world - either meeting people, walking, cycling or just getting out.

"We are going for a river walk on the South Bank in London," she added.

"By all means use e-mail and the web to prearrange to meet up with people - but do turn it off on the day itself."

Youngsters surf the net, BBC
Young people - leading a "culture change"
Ms Venery said there had been a definite culture change with younger people being more inclined to stay at home.

She said: "I don't know if you can solely blame the internet for that but it is definitely a factor in it.

"We are just asking people to think about creating more of a balance between the web and real world activities."

Addictive

Steve Pankhurst, one of the founders of Friends Reunited, which is now among the UK's biggest websites, was not convinced people would switch off.

He said: "I think we would get too many complaints from our members if we switched off."

But he added: "I do think there are certain areas of the internet, like chatrooms, that are addictive to certain people in the same way that television is to some.

"But there is a place for everything, and if you use the internet correctly, and use it for information, I don't see a problem."

See also:

20 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
China acts on net 'addicts'
06 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Net sex addiction on the rise
13 Mar 00 | Middle East
Internet addiction strikes Egypt
23 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Caught in the Net
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