Cyber Café among Youths and it’s consequences
( This article was contributed by Devyani Shiwakoti, Sangam Silpakar, Elipha Pradhananga )
What does cyber café mean?
Internet cafe or cyber cafe is a place where people can get connected to the Internet while eating or have a cup of coffee using publicly accessible computer. While the main activity in the cyber cafe is the Internet, such as email, newsgroup and web site surfing, other applications usually available are office suite to type document, spreadsheet, games, such as online games and other utilities such as printing service, scanning and digital photo service. Cyber centre or Internet centre is almost the same with cyber cafe or internet cafe. People can browse the Internet, playing games and typing document. The only different is cyber centre or internet centre do not sell food or beverage. They only concentrate in computers, not cafe. Other services usually available are printing, scanning, digital photo, CD and DVD burning. They also sell computer accessories. Because of the nature of their business, sometimes cyber centre also sell computer and provide computer repair service. Modern gaming centre is more like a cyber cafe or cyber centre. People can play online games or network games. People will come in groups so they can play network game and fight each other to find out who is the best. Some come in solo just to filling in their time. In the previous time, gaming centre are full with kids but today adult also like to play game especially network and online games. In the gaming centre, other then personal computer, Playstation or XBox are also used to play games. Although gaming centers are also connected to the Internet, people cannot browse the web site or use emails.
In case of Nepal however, the concept of cyber café is somewhat different. Cyber cafes in Nepal are a place where people browse the internet and play games but the facilities of a café are not provided. We do not have a separate gaming centre and neither do these cafes sell food. Hence, in Nepal the cyber cafes are more like cyber centre. They usually have photocopy services. They also provide services for printing, scanning, phone calls. Some cyber cafes also sell computer equipments as well.
Effects of Cyber cafes
The cyber cafes have made the internet access very easy. They have made access to internet affordable to the common Nepali folks. The Cyber Cafes have greatly influenced the life of the youth in Nepal. It not only helps in connecting people and getting information but also helps in socialization. Besides these uses, it has been affecting other sectors of the youth life as well.
Effects on education
Cyber cafes have come as a boom to school and college going students. The internet is a very resourceful means for getting information on any sort of topic. It has made the work of students much easier and quicker. It has not only helped in studies but has also enhanced students’ knowledge of the world. The owner of Bardan Cyber house (2 yrs of operation) says:
“Most people that come here are of age 14-23 and are mainly students. School students come mostly during vacations for help in their assignments. They come here to search for information and download things. Because of the internet, we now know so much about the world and its happenings. It has helped so many students in their studies.”
Sangeet, Sophomore of Slippery Rock University, USA says,
“Cyber cafes does effect the youths. As it is the age of internet, which shows the world within a sec, everyone would obviously be interested in this. Especially youths, who are always curious about things going on. They are always anxious to know and explore new things. This is how there are new inventions and discoveries. Students can learn a lot from internet, be it learning vocabularies from dictionary, searching the encyclopaedia or just listening music from YouTube.”
However, cyber cafes have made students dependent on internet. Students rely on internet for every small project. It has increased plagiarism as well.
Effects in connectivity
There are lots of youngsters leaving the country everyday. Every youngster in Nepal has some friends or relatives abroad. So cyber cafes have been cheap and hugely effective means to keep in touch with the people abroad. Other than this, we see a trend among youngsters of making internet friends who they know only through the virtual world. Kavin Shakya, owner of ‘The cyber link’ (9 yr of operation) shared his views with us.
“Middle aged people come here but only those who have relatives abroad. They do not surf the net for information. They only come to chat. We initially started with telecommunication facilities. Later we also added computers. We don’t allow playing games because it creates disturbances in computers. People come here to scan their pictures to send abroad. I think cyber cafes are doing a good job.”
Marja van Schagen, a volunteer from Holland who is going to work on schools in Dhading shares that she has been using internet more here than she does in her home country. She says,
“I normally go through educational websites for my work. Cyber café have been very helpful for me to keep in touch with folks back home.”
Effects on Socialization:
Internet has created a virtual public sphere where the participants feel free. They feel a sense of democracy that they don’t in the geopolitical space. So, we have more and more people blogging, using facebook, myspace, hi5 and other sites like these. It has attracted participation of many youth. So, Cyber Cafes have become a doorway to the world of virtual socialization.
Many people spend their time on cyber cafés. They love spending their time on cyber rather than with peers. It has given a kind of freedom to people to do anything. They spend their time chatting or doing some important things. Going to cyber café has become a part of everyday routine for some people. So it has become like a junction where people meet everyday and has made people addicted to it.
“We have some regular costumers here. They often come here and stay for around 1 to 2 hours. We don’t really look for what they do but I think they have people to chat with daily”, says Krishna Gautam of Easy Cyber café.
Internet has proved to be a powerful tool for extracting information and has increased people’s knowledge of the world. Since we are flooded with so much information, our awareness quotient has definitely increased. But, we also have to be aware of the fact that there’s going to be bad information as well.
With the growing importance of the Internet in everyday life, more and more people are accessing various on-line resources each day. The World Wide Web is informative, convenient, resourceful, and fun. For some people though–the addicted–these benefits are becoming detriments. There are varying opinions on the subject, especially among those who utilize the Internet. Some say that the Internet can be addicting, to the point that it disturbs one’s life and the lives of those around him. Others say that there is no such thing as Internet Addiction Disorder
We have many people socializing through virtual public spheres. Gaming has become a craze in so many countries. Though we have not reached to the point where youngsters isolate themselves from the real world in search of friends in the virtual world, these kind of problem have been seen in the west so we have to be careful that our youngsters do not follow the same direction.
Viewing Pornographic Sites:
Many cyber cafes have cabin system. This makes it easy for people to have privacy. This has helped the people who view pornographic sites as there aren’t people who will disturb them inside the cabin.
Bam Dev Gautam, the present Home Minister of Nepal, had issued a ban on dance restaurants and bar. He realized the potential threats of the pornographic site and issued a ban even in the cabin System of cyber café. When people are alone inside a cabin, they can feel free to view any kind of sites. But, out in the open, people might be discouraged to view such sites in front of strangers.
Effects on children
Children of age 8-14 are usually seen in cyber cafes playing games. Children often come with their co-partners. They share their money and play games turn by turn.
Owner of Kavreli Communication says:
“Children stay maximum for two hours and pay in partnership. The children that come here mostly come with their friends rather than with adults.”
Kriti Labh of KUMS, Dhulikhel says:
“I think games have become an addiction among the children. They do not know about right exposure so we always have to worry what kind of sites they may open. In my childhood I didn’t know as much as my brothers and sisters know. I think it’s because of access and exposure. Sometimes I feel they know more than I do”.
Owner of Cyber link, Hemant Shakya having 2 yrs of operation says
“Here we have installed games also. Mostly kids come of age 10 or 11 yrs. They stay for minimum 30 mins till 3 hrs. Adults play games like FIFA, GTA, CS. Other than games, users mostly come to check mails. Only 2-3 % of people come for research.”
Many cyber cafes allow gaming in computer with exception of some cyber cafes where they discard gaming. They believe downloading games create lot of problems in computer and makes computer slow.
People come to cyber cafes only for fun. They spend their free time in cyber, chatting with anonymous people. They have not yet realized the importance of internet.
Sanam of age 26, an engineer of electronics and communication, says she hardly go to cyber café since she has internet access at her home. Whenever she goes to cyber, she firstly opens mailing websites. She is planning for abroad studies so she searches for colleges and universities abroad through internet. She prioritises websites as: hotmail, google, facebook, nepalnews.
She says, “Cyber cafes have been doing great job by helping us with internet. Everyone doesn’t have internet access in their home so it helps people to get connected and for doing research and to get information. Though I rarely go to cyber, I make good use of my money. But most other users I see just come to spend their leisure time. They play games or do chat. They stay for 2-3 hours but do nothing. I extremely feel sad that they are not using their time and money properly. They could have known so many things by just one click within seconds. But it of course depends on individuals.”
In Nepal, mostly youngsters go to cyber cafes just for chatting or finding information related with their assignments; aged people go to cyber cafes for getting connected with their relatives or family members. Most cyber cafes are opened for business purpose only.
According to the users abroad, there are not much cyber cafes. People have their own laptops and there is wireless internet connection everywhere. People often don’t use internet for chatting. Mostly, they use it for getting information.
Cyber café has increased the access of internet. There are many users who couldn’t afford it before. The cyber cafes have made access of internet cheaper and easier. With increase in competition the prices of the services provided in the cyber café is decreasing which has only helped the internet users.
People mostly go cybercafés to get connected with their relatives or friends. Very few users seek for information. People who need internet most of the time have their own internet connection at home.
Cyber cafes have become one of those places where people can spend their leisure time. Students bunk their classes and go to cyber cafes just to play internet games or chat with unknown people.
The Internet is not the enemy just because people become dependent on it. It has many important and necessary benefits. It is fast, ecologically sound, convenient, and informative. In many ways it makes our lives much simpler. In many ways it makes our lives more complex and the cyber cafes have helped a lot for people who don’t have internet access at home.
With the increase in the number of internet users, the role of cyber café is becoming more and more important. The Nepalese do not have that much access and exposure to the net yet and these problems haven’t aroused but Nepal too cannot remain immune to its effect be it positive or negative.