Regulating Children’s Entry To I-Cafés
In the absence of a national law regulating the registration and operation of Internet cafés, many local government units (LGUs such as towns, cities and provinces) enact their own ordinances with provisions mostly based on the Local Government Code of the Philippines. I had already written many articles about the various local regulations already in place in many areas. I am adding this one to summarize the different rules being applied by LGUs in their effort to regulate entries of students of minor age (I will call them ‘children’ in this write-up) to Internet cafés and avoid truancy.
The issue of truancy among school children is the concern of everyone. First and foremost, I believe that preventing truancy should be a collective effort of the community and mainly by the parents and teachers of young students. The existence of Internet cafés in many localities where truancy exist are getting cited to be the major cause of the problem. Playing online games instead of attending classes are observed to be prevalent in many areas; hence, the need to pass ordinances that would regulate the entry of school children to these business establishments.
As I said, the rules on the entry of school children to Internet cafés vary from one LGU to another. Below are the different rules being implemented in different areas of the country and my personal comments on them.
- No Entry During School Days – This is the strictest rule being implemented by some LGUs. This means that no children are allowed inside café premises from Monday to Friday. Children can only go to an Internet café on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays either to play games or do their assignments where they need to make research on the Internet.
- No Entry During School Hours – A more common provision on many local ordinances, this one prevents entry of school children to Internet cafés from say 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM or even up to 9:00 PM depending on school schedules in an area. Under this rule, school children can play games or make their homework inside computer shops in the evenings (until before curfew time) and on weekends only.
- No Entry During Class Hours – While there are just few LGUs that impose this rule on their ordinances, this is the ‘win-win’ situation for both the school children and the café owners. Under this regulation, school children can enter computer shops to do their assignments and homework or play games as long as it is not their class hours (normally classified as morning, afternoon or evening class). It may be a little difficult to monitor compliance to this rule. The school and other local authorities have to coordinate closely with the Internet café owners regarding the class schedules of the children.
- No Entry For Children In School Uniforms – This should be a ‘must’ on any local ordinance regulating the entry of school children to Internet cafés. Having school children wearing uniforms inside a café will not only give bad image to their schools but also to the Internet café allowing such. Anyone who sees school children wearing their uniforms inside Internet cafés will readily have the impression that those young café customers skip their classes.
Above are the existing regulations in different areas that some LGUs who do not yet have or in-process of amending their local ordinances may consider. I suggest that Internet café owners seek ways to present the best options to their local legislators. Having a thorough discussion on the issue can go a long way in having a fruitful co-existence of schools and Internet cafés in any locality.