Potential Chat Room Dangers for Children

As a parent, you will want to pay close attention to the risks specifically associated with participating in chat rooms, message boards, and private chats. Consider the following, and discuss these potential issues with your kids:

  • Sharing information: Even after you talk with your children at length regarding the sharing of personal information online, conversations in chat rooms can quickly become familiar, and kids may be tempted to share personal information with online “friends.”

  • Others sharing your information: Kids may share information, believing it is just being seen by one person, but then have that information shared with others or even posted publicly. Remind your kids that anything they type via chat may be shared.

  • Cyberbullying: The assumed anonymity of Internet users often gives people an excuse and a venue to say things that they would not say otherwise, including hurtful and mean statements. Kids can be bullied by people they know and also strangers, who can use information shared in chat rooms to bully kids.

  • Online predators: Chat rooms and message boards are one of the top places where online predators seek child victims. They use the personal information provided by kids and watch their online discussions in order to introduce conversation and engage with them, playing the role of a sympathetic listener or pretending to relate to kids.

  • In-person meetings: Online Friends commonly discuss meeting in person. Kids need to be reminded that they don’t really know the people they are talking to online — and should never agree to meet them in person.

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