Should You Let Your Child Use an Internet Chat Room?

Should You Let Your Child Use an Internet Chat Room?

Are you the parent of a child who has recently decided that they want to use internet chat rooms?  Or, are you a parent who has just learned that your child has been using internet chat rooms?  If you are, you may be unsure as to how you should proceed.  Yes, internet chat rooms are a great way to make new friends online, but they can be dangerous.  So, should you let your child use online chat rooms?

When it comes to determining if your child is ready to use online chat rooms, it is best to examine the pros and cons of them.  For starters, there are chat rooms out there that are designed for children and teenagers.  By visiting these chat rooms, your child should be paired with their peers.  They may also be able to make new online friends and communicate with their friends from school easily online.

Meeting new friends online and communicating with current friends over the internet, by way of internet chat rooms, is nice.  It, however, is also important to remember that there are dangers to doing so as well.  For starters, it is important to remember that anyone can get into a chat room.  Just because a chat room that your child uses is designed for kids between the ages of 8 and 15, it doesn’t mean that everyone in that chat room falls into that age range.

As for why it is easy for an adult to get into a chat room and pretend to be a child it is because not all internet chat rooms are monitored.  With that said, you should be able to find a number of chat rooms for children and teens that are monitored.  This means that an adult will be there watching all conversations to make sure that they are appropriate.  Remember though that an adult pretending to be a child may be able to slide under the radar.

As previously stated, an adult could easily pretend to be a child, enter a chat room for children, and target those in the room.  This is easy for many internet predators to do because the internet makes it very simple for children to be targeted.  A whole new, false identity can be created and you and your child may never know until it is too late.

Despite the fact that there are a number of cons or downsides to letting children and teenagers use internet chat rooms, many parents still let their children do so.  If you want to be one of those parents, that is fine, but be sure that both you and your child know the dangers that lurk.  Make sure they know not to give out personal information in a chat room because the person on the other end of the computer may not be who they say they are. 

Also, for your child’s protection, find internet chat rooms for them to use.  Even if your child knows that dangers lurk, they may still opt for the most popular chat rooms, even if they aren’t very safe.  When searching for safe chat rooms for your child to use, start with a standard internet search.  Next, look for those that have staffed monitors, as well as those that do not have private messaging features. 

For added safety and security, have your computer in a well trafficked location.  This is likely to reduce the amount of time that they spend in a chat room, as they may feel like they are being watched.  You can also limit the use of chat rooms unless you are home or in the same room.  Of course, you can ban your child from visiting online chat rooms if you wish, as you do have the right to do so.

As a reminder, be sure to talk to your child or teenager about the dangers of communicating with strangers on the internet.  Having online friends are nice, but make sure your child knows that they should stay just that “online,” friends.

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