Mushrooming internet cafés posing questions

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The mushroom growth of internet cafes in the city has helped promote immoral activities in society, especially the youth, Pakistan Today has learnt. Cyber cafes in large numbers could be seen at Faisal Town, Barkat Market, Gulshan-e-Ravi and Samanabad, which are polluting the minds of the youth, which are the future of the country. Use of the Internet has become indispensable, as we are transforming into an information society.
It provides us with feasible and efficient solutions to our problems. It is a huge world, which is accessible to us on just one click. Nevertheless, public access to the Internet is mainly provided by Internet cafes, which offer cheaper Internet access rates, as compared to surfing at home. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) provided the following legal definition, “Cyber café means and includes cyber cafe/Internet club/Internet parlour, or a place or premises where Internet access is provided on local area network or dialup or leased line connectivity from any Internet service provider.”
On the other hand, negative use of the Internet is also very common at cafes. A lot of them are not registered with the government and operating illegally. Many use basement shops for this purpose while many cafes are decorated like departmental stores outside but computers and cabins are hidden inside. Internet cafes in Lahore are used primarily by men aged from 18 to 30. People, who have completed or are continuing education at the university level, especially students, form the majority of café-goers.
People of middle or low economic classes are regular visitors of such cafes. Entertainment, e-mails and chat are favourite activities at these cafes, followed by browsing the Internet, watching TV or sports and searching for jobs. Only a few users use the Internet for academic and research activities. Law student Hamza Maqsood told Pakistan Today that net cafés’ role in our society is shameful. Nowadays, they have become centres of vulgarity, he said.
Maqsood said that a few years ago, he went to a café for academic-related research and it was the best tool of information seeking. Super Net Café owner Muhammad Irfan said that the net café business is in crisis, as besides students, no one comes there, because their image has worsened among people due to some wrong activities. Behind the curtain of secrecy, a majority of the people misuse the Internet, he said. Irfan said that they are trying to build the image of cafés.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has already ordered the PTA to block improper sites. Down Town Net Café owner Wasim Ahmed told Pakistan Today that due to misuse of cafes, their business is suffering nowadays. Due to Internet facility on cellular phones, students also avoid visiting net cafés, he said. Citizen Mufarakh Sajjad said that cafés were a source of information but after catching people’s attention, they had become an entertainment source.
He said that healthy entertainment is not bad but cafes are exploiting the younger generation. Civil Engineering student Shahid Javaid said that whenever he faces any hurdle during studies, he goes to a café for searching. Javaid said that the image of cafes is at stake nowadays but he has no alternate source due to which he has to go to a café.