The Public Image Of I-Cafés

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I know of an Internet café association (ICA) whose main objective this year is to build a good public image for its member i-cafés. The officers and trustees of the said ICA have to devise action programs that would project the functions of i-cafés in bridging the digital divide. The programs are aimed to extend free hands-on training for deserving students, teachers and civil servants in order to emphasize the fact that i-cafés are not for leisure only but also for productivity as well.

But what is really the image of i-cafés in the eyes of the public? Sad to say, it is not good. To majority of parents, teachers and local government officials, i-cafés are gaming dens that tolerates long hours of exposure of children of minor age to violent hackenslash online and network games. For them, i-cafés are where their children gets addicted to PC games to the point of neglecting their studies.

In view of the above impression, the local government unit (LGU) where i-cafés proliferate, various rules and regulations restricting access to i-cafés by children of minor age are getting enacted in the form of local resolutions and ordinances. There are towns and cities that do not allow schoolchildren to enter i-cafés during school hours (7:00 AM to 5:00 PM) and impose curfew hours for minors to as early as 8:00 PM. These and many more are the restrictions that get in the way of i-cafés whose business are different from those who cater purely the gaming crowd.

The above-described negative image of i-cafés plus the ever increasing oversupply in a crowded market are challenges posed to i-café owners who have productivity and education as their business motto. If you belong to this group of i-café businessmen, how can you contribute to the image-building that the industry rightfully deserves?

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