Your children enjoy talking with their friends every bit as much as you do. It’s no wonder they may want to visit chat rooms. “Should my kids be on them?” you wonder. Take a look at the pros and cons of chat rooms to make a better informed decision, as well as how you can find one appropriate for your child.
Have you ever visited a chat room because you were curious about your child’s fascination with them and then been aghast at what you read? If you have, you may wonder if you should even allow your child to go in them. If you’re not sure what a chat room is and what goes on in them, you may want to pay attention.
Basically, a chat room is an area on the internet set aside for people to communicate with one another. They can do this by typing real-time conversations with more than one person at a time. Some chat rooms are supervised, others are not. Unfortunately, some chat rooms that children and teens visit have no supervision whatsoever. Those are the ones that you may want to consider to be off-limits for your own children.
What most parents don’t realize is that a majority, nearly six in ten, of children use chat rooms while they’re online. In and of themselves, chat rooms aren’t bad. What makes chat rooms undesirable are the language, content, and people that visit them.
Many children and teens use chat rooms as a way to stay in contact with friends that may have moved. They are also able to make new friends from all around the world. The downside is that chat rooms are often places where people are cyber bullied or conversations turn to a sexual nature.
Pedophiles and other predators also visit chat rooms that are unmoderated. They may start up conversations with children or teens by pretending to be a child themselves. Of course, most children and teens visiting chat rooms are exactly who they say they are, but the possibility still exists.
You may want to keep young children out of chat rooms altogether because they often don’t use good judgment when talking to people. There are well-monitored chat rooms for children between the ages of 8 and 13 but you may have to do some research to find them.
Many stuffed toys and food items have websites that children can visit. Some of them also have a chat room available but they have strict rules about conduct and acceptable conversations. Because they are highly monitored, they can catch things that are inappropriate before they get out of hand.
Teens may find chat rooms associated with homework sites but there are many available online. Suggest that they visit only monitored rooms, but don’t be surprised if they choose to visit others that aren’t monitored. Help them recognize the dangers of chat rooms in general and to stay out of private chat rooms entirely.
If you decide to allow your child or teen to visit chat rooms, you may want to have some rules of your own. Some good rules are: the computer with internet access is located in a common area, a parent must be available while in a chat room, and if they become uncomfortable about the conversation they should inform you immediately.
Learn about chat rooms by visiting them yourself for research purposes. Then help your child recognize when things aren’t right and when to make a hasty retreat. Being around while they’re online will help them feel safe and yet able to enjoy themselves.