If you are the type of person who feels more comfortable writing about your feelings and issues instead of talking face to face with another, then, you may feel comfortable joining online chat rooms. You may want to interact in any of the following, just to name a few:
While you may feel a level of comfort in these online discussions, there are steps you need to take to protect your privacy and safety.
Many chat rooms have moderators who oversee the discussion within the group. It is still important that you don’t give out personal information, such as your phone number, email address or home address. You, as well as the majority of other people in the chat, are joining in order to get support and share ideas. Unfortunately, some people join these groups in order to prey on people who have their guard down. If you feel comfortable and you are getting the support and the ideas you need, then, use it as a resource for those things. As was stated above, most people are there with good intentions, so don’t be overly suspicious, and yet don’t give out that personal information either.
MEETING CHAT ROOM MEMBERS
If a decision is made to meet someone from a chat room, make sure you do it in a public place and, if possible, have someone else go with you to the meeting. As stated in the personal information section, the majority of people are seeking out and using chat rooms for the sole purpose of personal development and support. Don’t ever meet at a private and secluded place. Always be on the side of caution.
REPORTING INAPPROPRIATE CONVERSATIONS
If you see that anyone within your chat room is making inappropriate comments or steering the discussion of the designated topic, be sure to report them to the moderator of the group or to the site that runs the chat room. Although people like that often use aliases or phony names, the fact that you are making note of their behavior and not tolerating it may be enough to get them to leave your chat. Many chat sites have protection built right into the chat rooms where you can click on the user and then click on the report user (or something similar to that). The providers of the chat room want it to be a safe place for all who engage in discussions, so they will have safeguards in place for protection.
PARENTS OF CHAT ROOM PARTICIPANTS
Unfortunately, predators are all over teen and younger adult chat rooms pretending to be boys and girls all the time. A chat room may seem very intriguing to a tween, teen or young adult and you may not even know that your child is interacting in these chat rooms. As a parent, you must ask questions and have conversations with your children about being safe while chatting. Tell them to NEVER give out any personal information or set up meetings. It is imperative that they understand the seriousness of these circumstances.
We all want to believe that we live in a positive, safe, and trusting world, but we are seeing now that we need to be on alert for people who want to do harm to us and our loved ones. Many parents grew up in a technology-free world, so educating yourself on these things is also very important. If you aren’t sure how to approach talking to your children about this topic, then, speak to your pediatrician, school adjustment counselor, school guidance counselor or do some online research. There are many online articles about how to speak to children about being safe on the Internet.