Online messaging has taken over the way that we run our lives, and our children are no different. Although online chat rooms come with potential dangers, banning your children from
“Being shy I can go to chat rooms online and talk with people I would not normally talk to”
“I can say whatever I want in a chat room”
The quotes above are from teenagers speaking about chat rooms. It is clear to see why chat rooms are enticing for the youth to engage in. Chat rooms can be accessed by anyone. They involve two-way conversations via text messages and are a great way to have fun and make friends. They are particularly interesting to the youth as a variety of people from different social backgrounds can converse in conversation on almost any subject.
However, despite the advantages that chat rooms bring, the youth need to be wary of online predators and grooming. Due to the nature of the conversations, being online people can very easily deceive others and pretend to be someone that they are not.
An article titled Chat room dangers states that some men and women go to young people’s chat rooms because they want to meet young children and sexually abuse them. Make no mistake, paedophiles are very dangerous and children need to know and learn about chat room safety in order to avoid becoming a victim.
How to stay safe in chat rooms
- Never give your personal details
- Never state your real name
- Do not give out your email addresses or private numbers
- Do not post pictures of yourself
- Do not agree to meet anyone you’ve met in a chat room unless you have adult supervision
What to do if you feel vulnerable in a chat room
- If you suspect someone in the chat room is not who they say they are then you can notify the person in charge of the chat room and report the person
- If someone is pestering you in a chat room, you have the power leave the chat room.
- If your friends are also in chat rooms warn them about any suspicious activity you notice
- Always stay in public chat rooms. If someone requests you to chat privately, do not agree. Remember public chat rooms have a number of people in them. These people can be witness to any suspicious or worrying behaviour.
John Levine and Margaret Young, authors of the book The Internet for dummies states that people need to adhere to chat room etiquette. Remember that you are talking to real people. The first rule of chat room etiquette is not to insult or hurt anyone. You also need to be cautious, as you never know who you are chatting to and if they are who they say they are. Never give away too much information about yourself and take caution about what topics you engage in.