a computer in every cafe

An interesting application of simple economics is present on every corner in Buenos Aires and many other South American cities. A computer (‘machina’, they call them) with internet service is often too expensive for the average family to purchase. So, over the last decade, the stores that host a handfull of telephone booths, or ‘locutorios’, have also introduced pay-by-the-quarter-hour computers.

Children are the most frequent patrons of these locations by far and away. Chatting is exceedingly popular; videogames, less so. In my estimation, some kids are blowing half of their weekly allowances on internet hours. Still, it is not likely that they would save enough to buy a computer by setting all of their internet pesos aside and opting for soccer instead.

Plus, the social currency of chatting is irresistible to many, judging by the glazed eyeballs.

3 Responses to “a computer in every cafe”

  1. Really interesting! Does it seem that the children are chatting with other children in the same vicinity (same cafe?), or are they frequenting chat rooms/groups, which possibly introduce them to people outside their locale?

  2. spike says:

    I should have asked.. alas, they were too busy to be pried away from their screens!

    Note that even in some run-down areas of town, kids have flashy cellphones. Maybe they are just chatting out of boredom, or chatting for the sake of chatting? These seem plausible explanations to me.