Technology has changed the way we live.
We quite literally hold the world in our little electronic devices and we have (almost) unbridled access to almost anything we want or need. We have global apps such as Facebook, Uber, Amazon, and Tinder that exists for a huge variety of uses and some of our local entrepreneurs have joined the game. Local apps such as Paktor, Carousell, and Eezee are a few that come to mind, and of course, we are one of the few that has recently joined the market.
Connecting with people online is commonplace, and usually anonymous (eg. Reddit and Omegle), and this sometimes develops into a face to face meeting with somebody that we have met online. Tinder and meetup.com are two examples that are based off this model and Kalpha was conceptualized based on the idea of meeting people that we usually wouldn’t meet to learn and share with one another.
With the internet being one of the sharpest double-edged swords of the 21st century, opportunities, both good and bad, have spawned and are ripe for the taking. Scams have become more mainstream, with scams actually increasing in number this year. In addition, the recent discovery of a certain Telegram group that shared obscene pictures against their victim’s wishes is another example of how anonymity can be abused.
In response to these new threats, the police have set up an anti-scam centre and there are many more resources available on how to protect your privacy online, especially for ladies. There are also resources online that already exist that give tips and advice on how to keep yourself safe when meeting others online.
However, Kalpha is an app that leverages on people connecting online and meeting in person to learn from one another. While we believe that face-to-face learning is the most effective way of learning, this also means that there are certain dangers that come with the platform, as many of our Users have often asked us about.
Much like the precautions you take before inviting a stranger into your house to teach your kid tuition, our Users have to take precaution when meeting with others face-to-face to learn!
My Child is On the Internet!
While the dangers of meeting the internet apply to everyone, we notice that concerns for tweens and children being on our platform seem to be brought up most commonly, and with good reason.
Given the accessibility to the internet, it is not that surprising that a fair share of users are kids and tweens. The accidental in-app purchases aside, there are also other problems that come with this. With more tweens meeting up with online strangers (https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/many-tweens-meeting-online-strangers), the burden falls on the parents to educate their children about the dangers of meeting people that they do not know.
Since none of us here at Kalpha are parents, we do not presume to teach you how to parent your child and there are some general tips on how to keep your children safe but the most important, in my opinion, is understanding your children and what they use.
One of the most obvious ways to a parent would likely be an outright ban on speaking or meeting people online. However, given that the internet is so freely accessible, this might just result in your child doing things while keeping you in the dark and is potentially more dangerous than it has to be.
Understanding someone is usually the first step to making someone understand you and your children is no exception. Understanding the apps or platforms that appeal to your child is important, as it allows you to relate to them and vice versa. Likewise, the allure of being able to make friends or a side income by selling some simple things on Carousell are the top two reasons that tweens meet online strangers for and it would do you no harm as a parent to understand why these things appeal to your child.
If your children feel like they can turn to you to talk about what they like without being reprimanded for it at every turn, I would expect that it would be easier for you to communicate the dangers to your children and work out a compromise if they are interested in meeting someone online. Such a compromise could be chaperoning your child to their meetup in a public place with you staying nearby but letting your child do their thing.
While this might not sound like the ideal solution as a parent, this allows you to know who your child is meeting and intervene if truly necessary while also guiding your child on how to protect themselves when meeting with people.
While the risk of sexual assault is higher for women than for men when meeting online strangers, we believe that taking precaution when meeting online strangers is important for both men and women alike.
Meet in Public
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself safe is to meet in a group in a public place, the latter being extremely important if it is a 1-on-1 meeting. With the boom in cafes around Singapore, there is a plethora of places to choose from when meeting an online stranger. For example, you could meet up at Starbucks or a cafe instead of a private location!
If the meetup is going to happen at a private location (home, office, school etc), it would be wise to get somebody else to go with you. If that is not possible, make sure that somebody knows where you are and for how long so that they can check on you or even call the police if necessary.
Trust your Gut
Another simple but important thing is to trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then you should not go through with it, it really is as straightforward as that. If you feel uncomfortable meeting in a private location, then stick to your guns and insist on meeting in a public place. If the meeting is becoming very uncomfortable for you or the person you are meeting really feels “off”, then excuse yourself and leave.
Don’t be Shy
If the person you are meeting is making you feel uncomfortable, do not feel embarrassed to set your boundaries, ask for help or even scream.
For example, if the person you are meeting is touchy and making you feel uncomfortable, it is important that you tell them that you are uncomfortable and that they have to keep their hands to themselves. Should the other person take offense because of this, then so be it. Your personal safety is more important that what people might think of you and we should not sacrifice our safety just because people might judge us.
Learn to Defend Yourself
It never hurts to learn some self-defense skills in the event that we are in a dangerous situation. Sometimes, even knowing the basics could be the determining factor in getting yourself out of a compromising scenario.
There are several Sharers on Kalpha who have listings centered around the martial arts, particularly Muay Thai, and is a good avenue for those who want to try it out and see what it would be like.
As mentioned, the world is becoming more connected with the boom in technology. It is more likely that we will have to adapt to this ever-advancing phenomenon rather than have technology slowing down to match our pace. Naturally, those with ill-intentions will have increasing avenues and ways to get to us. While it is the responsibility of new platforms and companies to do their best to ensure a safe environment, it takes two hands to clap and we should always be vigilant.
It is up to us as individuals to take precaution when online and protect ourselves.