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Chat Room Safety

Friday, April 13th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Using The Internet
 
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Q:
In the past, you’ve told us how to be safe on certain Web sites, etc., but what about chat room safety? Do you have any tips we all can abide by for that?

A:
I’m so glad you asked! We here at WorldStart are always telling you to be as safe as possible when you’re visiting the World Wide Web. We’ve covered the Internet, social networking Web sites and even some Web sites for children, but what about regular ol’ chat rooms? Everyday, more and more people are using chat sites and to be honest, chat rooms can make you just as vulnerable as anything else in today’s Internet world. So, what can you do to keep yourself safe? Well, give these tips a try!

1.) As much as we may not want it to be true, there are many people online who are very dangerous. If you don’t keep your eyes and ears open, you may put yourself at risk. When you’re talking to someone in a chat room that you’ve never talked to before, don’t ever, for one second, think you know them. Plain and simple, they are a stranger to you and you should never give them your real name, address, phone number or any other personal information. This goes for your e-mail address as well, especially if it contains part of your name, etc.

2.) Another rule of thumb to follow is to never tell anyone you’re chatting with what your daily routine is. If you do the same thing everyday, such as go to work or to school, don’t give that information out. Or if you visit the same places regularly (parks, stores, etc.), don’t tell anyone! You don’t want to give anyone any leads in knowing where you’re going to be during certain times of the day.

3.) It’s strongly advised as well that you do not meet anyone in person that you have met off the Internet. We all know it happens on a daily basis, but in this case, we’re just talking about you. Don’t worry about what other people have done in the past, just worry about yourself and stray away from meeting people in real life that you don’t know. If you mix your real life with your computer life, you could be in for a big letdown or an unwelcome surprise.

Now, I know that some of you may not listen to all of that, so just in case you’re stubborn, here are some guidelines to follow if you do actually meet someone. Always do it in a public place where other people are around. Tell one of your friends or family members where you’re going, what time, etc. If someone else knows, they will be able to look out for you. And better yet, invite someone else to go along with you. Two is better than one!

4.) If you receive Web site links during your chat sessions, it’s best not to open them. They could contain viruses or even be of a disturbing matter. Just leave them alone and all will be good.

5.) Try to visit chat rooms that you know have moderators. This way, no one will be able to get away with threats, harassment or illegal behavior. I’m not sure about you, but it makes me feel better knowing someone else is there to watch my back if I happen to need them.

6.) It’s best not to post any pictures of yourself either. Sometimes the people you chat with may ask you for your picture, but if you give it to them, it’s just going to open another can of worms. It will give that person a chance to know more about you. They’ll also know what you look like and that is just not good.

7.) I know that it’s fun and exciting to talk to new people every once in awhile, but it’s really best to keep your chat room conversations limited to people you really do know. You know, your family members, your friends, your co-workers, etc. These are people you know and can trust, so why not just talk to them instead? And besides, we all talk to our friends and family less than we should in the first place, so just set up a chat session with them and stay in touch!

Alright, I think that covers all the main points. I know some of these tips may not apply to all of you, but maybe you could forward them off to other people you know, such as your children or grandchildren. If you share this information with others, it will help to keep everyone you know and love safe. I also know that this may be a little repetitive for some of you, but there’s nothing like a refresher course. At least that’s what I always like to say. Now, go on and be safe. Do it!

~ Erin

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