Peer Educators and Counselling Club hosts webinar on online dating

By Juweiriya Said

The Peer Educators and Counsellors Club (PECC) recently held a webinar online dating dubbed "Spot and catch a catfish". The webinar was in response to catfishing, an internet security issue that has become commonplace in the wake of active social media engagement among people of all ages around the world.

PECC deemed it necessary to have the training in order to educate and raise awareness on the dangerous aspects of online dating. Research shows that online dating has become a common phenomenon around the world particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic period. It also shows that a majority of people who engage in online dating have experienced some sort of threat, problem and even security and privacy breach.

Panelists at the event included Prof. Martin Luther, a faculty member at the School of Science and Technology, who covered the topic of safety precautions in online dating. He shared some of the dangers that one can face including fraud, stalking, and physical assaults among other issues.

“Some of the red flags to look out for when online dating include the person being hesitant to have a physical meeting, refusal to chat over video call, and having few social media friends,” he said. His sentiments were reiterated by an account of one of the webinar’s participants, who noted that he had a catfishing experience that led to him being nearly robbed by the person he was meeting.

Mr. Varun Gupta, a USIU-Africa alumnus also shared with the audience some of the vulnerabilities one can be exposed to in online interactions. He gave a demonstration of how an individual’s device can be hacked and ways to prevent such from happening.

Ms. Noel Lusega, a Senior Counselor at USIU-Africa took the audience through the psychology behind catfishing where she shared key reasons for catfishing as; personal insecurities, mental illnesses, revenge and so forth. She also took the audience through some of the negative effects cat-fishing can have on a victim’s mental health, including anxiety, low self- esteem, depression, trust issues, a loss especially if it is a relationship they invested in just like any other form of loss.

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