Keeping young kids safe in cyberspace

Keeping young kids safe in cyberspace

Although Facebook prohibits anyone below 13 years old from signing up, this rule can be easily circumvented, as seen in the case of a man who sexually groomed 31 boys, aged between 11 and 15, after befriending them on the social media platform ("Call to educate children, parents on online risks"; last Sunday).

It is about time we did more to limit access to Facebook and other popular social media sites, to protect our young.

To ensure that people who sign up for an account are of the right age, we could require Facebook to make the provision of the user's identity card number or some other means of personal identification mandatory.

The child's IC number could also be linked to a database to which the parents can register, so that a notification can be sent to them if their child signs up at any of the popular social media sites.

The parents could also opt for a notification each time their child logs on, until such time they deem the child responsible enough not to be monitored.

Would-be sexual predators would be deterred from using their social media accounts to prey on children if their IC numbers were used during the signing-up process.

These measures may seem draconian to teenagers who value their privacy, but it is a small price to pay for their safety on the Internet.

- Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

This article was first published on Jan 25, 2015.
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