Shocker for frisky surfer: App hooks him up with underage teen
He was hoping to hook up with someone for sex.
So he logged on to a social networking application that helps men meet each other.
Dave, 32, found someone.
But he was in for a shock when they finally met - the other "man" looked a lot younger than what his profile suggested.
Said the manager, who did not want to reveal his surname for fear of being identified: "The guy's profile only showed his torso and not his face.
"I stupidly assumed that he was at least 18 years old, as you need to be 18 to use the app because it's part of the terms of service."
Fearing that he might break the law, Dave did not go through with the dalliance.
Based on recent court cases, Dave was right to be cautious about the people he meets on social networking sites.
Earlier this month, a 37-year-old man was jailed 10 months for having sex with a 14-year-old boy he met using a social networking app (See report on facing page).
In the last five years, there have been at least 20 reported cases of men who were dealt with in court after having sex with underage boys and girls.
All of them met their victims on social networking platforms.
These cases involved 14 girls and three boys, who were between 12 and 15 years old.
The perpetrators, who were between 16 and 63 years old, were either given probation or jailed for up to three years.
In Dave's case, he said it would be better to be safe than sorry when it comes to sex.
Recalling the incident that took place about four years ago, he said the decision to meet started with him dropping the other party a message.
After some light flirting, they agreed to meet at Dave's flat in the eastern part of Singapore.
Dave said: "The guy turned up about an hour later and I was surprised by what I saw. He looked very young but insisted that he was 18.
"I didn't want to check his IC or to have sex with an underage kid. So I made up some lame excuse and sent him on his way."
Such cases of underage teens having sex with people they meet through social networking apps are a cause for concern, whether the sex is consensual or not, said experts TNP spoke to.
A spokesman from Marine Parade Family Service Centre's "Metoyou" cyber counselling service said it is important for parents to impart knowledge about the cyberworld to the younger generation.
Responding to queries, she urged parents to spend quality time with their children to build a trustful and loving relationship.
"Parents should protect their children by alerting them of risks and teaching them how they can protect themselves online.
"Parents should set up rules and be the role model they expect their children to obey."
The spokesman added that there are also mobile internet filters from different telecommunication companies to protect children from inappropriate content and other mobile internet threats.
"The company will send SMSes or e-mails to the parents when their children surf inappropriate content on their mobile devices.
"However, please remember this does not replace parental guidance and supervision," said the spokesman.
Counsellor John Vasavan agreed, saying: "At the end of the day, parents must share with their children the possible consequences that could take place when the youngsters meet up with strangers they befriend online.
"There must always be an open line of communication between parent and child."
Mr Vasavan added that one way parents can keep an eye on their children's online activities is by ensuring that the youngsters surf the net in communal areas of the home, like the living or dining room.
Banning smartphones and tablets for teenagers below 18 years old is a strategy that is unlikely to work, he said.
"They can always save their money and buy one on the sly," he said.
Metoyou's spokesman agreed, adding: "It will only cause them to find ways around the ban and hide their activities from their parents, rather than confide in them."
Parents should also learn to create an accepting environment where they can talk about issues of sex, sexuality and online safety with their children, said executive director of Oogachaga, Bryan Choong.
Oogachaga provides counselling and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals.
"Regardless of one's sexual orientation or gender identity, youths and adults need to be mindful of online safety when using the Internet or mobile-based social applications."
I didn't want to... have sex with an underage kid. So I made up some lame excuse and sent him on his way.
- Dave, a social networking app user
At the end of the day, parents must share with their children the possible consequences that could take place when the youngsters meet up with strangers they befriend online.
- Counsellor John Vasavan
They had sex with minors via...
1 SEX APP
A jobless man was jailed for three years on Dec 4 after admitting to three of five charges of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy.
Chock Soon Seng, 37, had also threatened to put the teenager's naked pictures online and send them to his friends.
The victim received a message from Chock earlier this year after downloading a social networking app on his mobile phone. The app is intended for men to meet other men for sexual activities.
Some time in February, the boy met Chock alone in his Hougang Avenue 8 flat.
Chock took him to his bedroom and photographed him naked with his iPad. After that, they performed oral sex on each other.
Chock was also jailed for 10 months in 2010 for trying to persuade two 13-year-old boys to masturbate while he watched.
He was working as a primary school teacher when he committed these earlier offences. He tendered his resignation after he was charged.
A man who had sex with an underage girl he befriended through Facebook was jailed for 10 months on Sept 17.
Syahrul Mohd Hanafiah was 21 when he had sex with a female student at a Geylang hotel in 2011. She was 13 then.
The victim, who is now 16, got to know Syahrul through the social media platform in early 2011. They began chatting on Facebook and subsequently became a couple on Facebook.
Some time before her 14th birthday, she met him for the first time at Compass Point mall in Sengkang.
He took her to the hotel on his motorcycle and had sex with her. After that, the two did not meet and did not remain in touch.
3 DATING APP
A former advertising director had bondage sex with an underage girl on two occasions after they first met via dating website OkCupid.The girl was 15 then.
The 35-year-old had explicitly stated on his profile that he was into "bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism" - or BDSM for short.
He was jailed for a year on Jan 21 for having consensual sex with the underage girl. During one of their sessions in early November 2012, he tied the girl up with a rope before snapping pictures of her.
The incident came to light when a church friend informed the girl's father that sexually explicit photographs of her were circulating on the Internet.
Metoyou Cyber Care helpline