Chat rooms are one place on the Internet that can cause a lot of fear and worry in parents. With a multitude of stories coming out about terrible things that have happened to children and others as a result of chat rooms, the concern is understandable.
Ultimately, chat rooms are not recommended for children. There is endless potential for online predators and identity thieves to be lurking around chat rooms and disguising themselves as being young and friendly. If you choose to allow your child to visit them, here are a few chat room tips that can help put your fears at ease:
Moderators Of The Service
There are almost always moderators in any chat room. It is their job to make sure that the conversations remain within the guidelines set by the room and to make sure that anyone breaking the rules is removed from the chat room. Internet security starts with these individuals. Chatdanger.com offers this helpful tip for remaining safe in a chat room,
Look at how the chat could be moderated, and think carefully about who the moderators are. Moderators are in a position of trust over the users.
Blocking And Ignoring
In virtually every chat room there will be a feature that allows members to block and/or ignore users that are bothering them. This feature is put in place so that specific members can be ignored and not have the opportunity to annoy other members any more. This is an important feature to use at the first sign of someone harassing your child.
Children-Specific Chat Rooms
There are chat rooms set up specifically for children online. They are monitored more closely than other rooms and may not permit certain types of language or pictures from being sent. In theory, these rooms should contain only people who are within an age appropriate range for your child to talk to. However, since it is the Internet, it's easy for someone who is an adult to create an account under the guise of being a different age. Parents should be just as wary, if not more, when kids are visiting children-specific chat rooms.
Take Notice of Your Child's New Online "Friends"
Keep an eye on any new friends or followers your child connects with on their social networks. Chat room predators try to gain the trust of chilren and may befriend them on other networks in order to further gain their trust. Connecting with targets on social networks makes a predator or thief seem more legitimate. Enlist the help of a tool like uKnowKids to stay on top of new social network interactions.
Related Article: Warning Signs of Grooming by an Internet Predator