Chat Rooms: Are they Dangerous for Your Children?

Yes, chat rooms can be dangerous for your children.  But so can walking across the street.  The best thing you, as a parent, can do is to teach your child the do’s and don’ts of Internet safety, then do your best to enforce the rules.Record Chat Conversations

The first and foremost thing your children need to understand is to not, under any circumstances, reveal personal information.  Never mind telling them not to provide their real name, address or phone number. 

Make it clear that predators can find them even if all they did was reveal their school or their friends’ names.  Predators have many tricks to make children feel comfortable with them and to get personally identifiable information from them.

Preferably your children should only use chat rooms that have moderators…in other words, people whose job it is to pay attention to chat and step in if things start getting out of hand or inappropriate.  Make sure, however, that the person in contact with your child is actually a moderator.  You can do this by going to the chat website itself and checking out the list of moderators. You can also use chat room monitoring software to watch what your kids are doing and who they are communicating with.

eBlasterOne especially good program for monitoring your kids chat room conversations, recording instant messaging communications, reading emails and viewing the websites they visit is eBlaster from SpectorSoft. It records and logs all of these event plus more on your child’s computer and emails you reports and images at a frequency that you determine. It really provides peace-of-mind for parents worried about chat room conversations.  

Make it clear to your children that, should someone start saying things that make them feel uncomfortable, they should leave the chat room and tell you.  Then report the behavior.  Chat rooms don’t want predators in them anymore than you do as parents.

And, finally, take the time to sit with them while they chat, particularly when your children are younger.  Even young children can be victims and they don’t have the judgment or experience to determine whom to trust or not.  The skills you teach your children when they are young will carry through when they become older, and the time you spend with them will be well spent.  Predators focus on children who are vulnerable, not children whose parents care enough to spend time with them.

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