WANITA MCA has called for the government to study the various legislations and policies and learn from other countries to explore methods to curtail underage children’s access to inappropriate websites, addiction to the internet and excessive use of social media such as TikTok.
Echoing Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek’s views regarding TikTok account ownerships by children under the age of 13, Wanita MCA national chairperson Wong You Fong said the government must take a serious view of the relevant trends and dialogue with all segments of society.
“This is to safeguard the pre-teens and adolescents from exposing themselves in particular to online sexual predators, scammers, cyberbullying, criminals, while ensuring the convenience of online technology is beneficial for their personal development in terms of gaining general knowledge or to help in their studies,” Wong said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 7).
Citing Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil’s statement on Feb 2 that TikTok account ownership by children under 13 is among the issues being considered to be raised with the management of the social media platform, Wanita MCA said it looks forward to the results of the meeting and express hope it will be held soonest possible.
“Cybersphere has become a double-edged sword. Providing educational content, lots of contents are often uncensored, making it difficult to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent information,” Wong remarked.
“The latter poses a threat as criminals and miscreants can pretend to be professionals yet deceive victims with falsehoods, distort values and toxify impressionable young minds. In particular, elements with child pornography and molestation are extremely harmful.”
Wong expressed hope that the Communication Ministry will establish an interdepartmental technical committee to tackle online security especially when it involves enhancing online security and privacy of children, reduce the risks of cyberbullying and the influence of harmful information.
“The government needs to ensure that social media platforms operators comply with existing laws and guidelines and stringently implement regulations and deal with violators,” Wong stressed.
“We also hope that parents will cooperate with the government’s control measures, monitor the contents which their children browse online, clearly stipulate the time and contents for their children’s use of social media, and guide their children on using social media correctly.”
Wanita MCA further urged the Education Ministry, in addition to schools and educational institutions, to undertake an active role in promoting education on online safety and teaching the correct usage of social media.
“This is so that children can better understand and master knowledge on online security and establish correct online behaviour and values,” Wong added.
“We also hope that the society will engage in more discussions simultaneously allowing teenagers and children space to go online while also protecting their safety and mental development.”
On Feb 4, Bernama reported Fadhlina as saying that her ministry will discuss with the Communication Ministry about children under 13 owning TikTok accounts.
She said the ministry needed to get complete information before issuing any guidelines on the matter and would seek the opinion of the Communications Minister and coordinate with his ministry.
“I need to get complete information and guidance from him to assess the potential effects and impact on our children,” she was reported as saying. – Feb 7, 2024
Main pic credit: MarketWatch