Child rights activist Sharmila Sekaran has warned parents to keep an eye on their children’s internet use following the arrival of Facebook’s newly minted dating service in Malaysia.
Sharmila, from Voices of the Children group, added that nothing online is entirely secure.
“Facebook Dating claims to be safe and secure but the reality is nothing online is 100% safe or secure.”
Speaking to FMT, she also highlights that despite the fact the service is only available to those above 18, children as young as eight already have Facebook profiles and know how to navigate them.
“Dating apps are usually for adults, but Facebook is used by children as young as 12, 13, or even younger.”
“Not many are aware of the dangers of online dating and its repercussions.”
“The government needs to hold Facebook accountable.”
Among the dangers that Sharmila highlighted in her interview are the risks of being cyberbullied, the risk of being approached by sexual predators, and the risk of not understanding what genuine relationships are.
“Children need to learn, through life experiences, what genuine relationships are like.”
“The key is to know what constitutes love and lust.”
“While it is common for teenagers to get into relationships today, is this how we want them to spend their time and thoughts?”
Sharmila states that parents should encourage more meaningful activities.
“They have a whole life ahead of them to find love and build relationships.”
Malaysia is one of 14 countries the Facebook dating feature is newly available in this month.
It allows users to create a dating account where they can be matched with others based on interests, likes, groups, events, and many more.
We sincerely hope that parents will exercise restraint especially when allowing children to go online on sites with age restrictions in place.
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