Call for law to ban small kids using Internet cafes

DUBAI/SHARJAH — With young children spending more and more time in Internet cafes, parents have emphasised the need for a law that makes it compulsory for cafe owners to prohibit children, under a certain age group, from using the facilities.

by

Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Sat 25 Mar 2006, 9:41 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:33 PM

Parents in the UAE have asked for a law that allows Internet cafe owners to monitor the activities and the amount of time very young children spend while using the facilities. The demand for a law arose when according to recent media reports, police arrested several young children from Internet cafes after they skipped school.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Lavina Mumtaz, mother of 10-year-old, Shabeen opined that cafe owners should discourage children younger than 12 years from using the cafe facilities. “My son is too young to understand what is good for him. I stop him from using the computer at home, but I recently found out that he and his friends spent a lot of time in an Internet cafe near our house playing games. For this reason, he skipped school several times without my knowledge,” she said.

Endorsing the concerns of the parents, Mohammed Naveed from Broadway Internet Cafe in Satwa said that, indeed, there was a need for a law to bar children younger than their teens from visiting Internet cafes. “Though most families have computers at home, children are not allowed to use the Internet so they frequent the Internet cafes. Most of the children are boys, who spend time playing games and even listen to their favourite songs. Others come to complete their school projects,” he said.

“Though as parents we are playing our part, we also need support from the authorities. If a child is discouraged from using the Internet at home, he knows that he can easily turn towards an Internet cafe, so it does not make any difference to him,” explained Lavina.

Tariq Abbas, owner of Al Khaimah Internet Cafe said that though there was no law prohibiting young children from using the cafes, some cafes had their own system in place that kept a check on the use of the Internet. “I have not placed any partitions, and I also have my own system,” said Abbas.

He admitted that many children, especially boys, as young as eight years old, often frequented the cafe, and spent hours playing games. “If they have the money, which I assume they have got from their parents, then I have no objection to them using the facilities,” he opined.

He also said that police usually frequented the cafe and monitored the activities. “The police keeps a close check on the usage of the Internet in the cafe and sometime also check computers to ensure that no one has left any personal data on the computer. The police also keeps an eye on youngsters,” he said.

Easy and affordable availability of the Internet is another reason that lures children who have been stopped from using the net at home, say parents. “Most cafes charge Dh4-5 per hour as well as different packages even available for as less as Dh10. This encourages children to hoard their pocket money, and waste precious time at the cafes,” said a father, Mohammed Feroz. Giving information, Abbas said that recently, the municipality had said that Internet shops based only inside shopping malls would be allowed to let users play games.

Recently Ajman police arrested 22 students from various private and government schools after they had skipped school and were spending time in Internet cafes. Brigadier Rashid Mujlad, Head of the Investigation Section of Ajman Police Department said the students had skipped schools without the knowledge of their parents.

“The students were taken to the police department and their parents were summoned by the investigating officers and notified about their children’s misconduct,” he said. He also said that the police patrol aimed at protecting students from being lost and involved in crimes.



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