Countries and cultures come closer together with the lighting-speed development of modern technology. This kind of globalisation comes straight from new and modern ways of communication. The world is starting to melt into a socioeconomic and cultural super-system as smart devices keep us just one click away.
But are young Cambodians taking part in this modern phenomenon?
With just one look down a busy street of Phnom Penh, you’ll see boys showing off their flashy mobiles. Walk in a café, and you’ll find girls fawning over clean and meticulously covered tablets. And no matter where you are, young Cambodians are using these devices merely for fun.
Chum Sereyvuth, a 24-year-old IT graduate, said that young Cambodians seem to only care about getting their fill of entertainment.
“It’s more crowded at the online game café than at school, or even at the regular net café,” he said.
Som Chan Sovandara, Deputy Director of the Department of Psychology at Royal University of Phnom Penh, voiced similar concerns.
Although technology can push the brain to develop and become more flexible, he said, it’s human nature to prefer using technology for purposes of pleasure over education.
But this natural habit poses a serious problem.
“Some young people tend to become more aggressive when they’re addicted to online games, whether it’s on a computer or a mobile. It can push someone towards violence or crime,” Som Chan Sovandara said.
“All just for more time to play the game.”
Som Chan Sovandara added that the “digital divide” between social classes in Cambodia is important to recognise. Because more people are living under the poverty line than not, he said, their education is limited by a lack of vital technology. These are the true victims of those unable to utilise technology for its intended benefits.
“We see a lot of young Cambodians with money wasting technology for the wrong purposes, when there are those who really need it,” he said.
Som Chan Sovandara said that this also a waste of time and money, and is catching on quickly.
“I’m not sure whether or not I’m addicted to online gaming,” said Sambath, a 17-year-old student, who chose not to reveal his real name.
“But I can guarantee that I enjoy it even though I know it’s a waste of time.”
Sambath added that the gaming café is now like a second home to him.
Aside from online gaming, a new level of materialism is an undeniable by-product of new technologies. Some young adults are relentlessly trying to persuade their parents for new gadgets to connect them to their friends, under the guise of using it for study.
“Most of the time, I use my [iPhone] for internet service, like chatting and downloading music,” said 22-year-old student Lim Sothea.
“Also, since my friends also have iPhones, I need to have one. If I didn’t, I would look so backwards.”
And piggybacking off this mentality, many local companies are targeting youth by dolling up smart phones with Khmer Unicode, Khmer dictionaries, and local software. There are even websites providing download portals for the amount of software, including Yolprom.com.
Cambodian youth shouldn’t follow peer or consumer pressure, however. This is the time to realise that we are the future leaders of the Kingdom, and we should be using technology to make our homeland a greater place.
Let’s use technology to engage in developing our education, our professional life, and our citizenship – and get globalising.