What are the Dangers of Children Using Chat Rooms?
With all the good the Internet brings also comes some danger. Monitoring your child's use of the Internet and keeping an open line of communication with your child about what he sees or with whom he chats can go far in helping him to avoid the dangers of chat rooms.
Children aren't the only people who are in chat rooms geared specifically towards children. An article from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that one in five children aged 10 to 17 has been approached by a predator. Predators target these chat rooms to engage children in conversation and then lure them into meeting. Monitored chat rooms aren't quite as dangerous because users are registered and conversations watched, according to Net Safe Kids, but it is still possible for a predator to get to your child this way. Predators will befriend your child, usually posing as another child or slightly older teen, and gain trust by behaving as an understanding and trusted friend. Once trust is gained in the chat room, the predator will move the conversation to a private area or in person.
Chat rooms are a place where bullies can have free reign over potential victims while enjoying anonymity. Bullies may start out as friends and then get your child to give her e-mail address, where the bullying can continue. Or the bullying may occur via instant messaging or in the chat room itself. It may occur on forums attached to the chat room, where bullies may post untrue and damaging information about your child.
Chat rooms are sometimes used to post links to pornography. Your child may click on a link and be taken to an offensive site, either intentionally or by mistake. Sometimes the links are posted by predators and other times as advertising for the sites. An article at Safe Surfing Kids suggests that this can occur in any chat room -- even those allowed by your parental controls -- and it's advisable to check your computer's history after a child has been browsing.
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