Chatting Safely

A few pointers to make your chat experience in this or any chat room a safe and enjoyable one.

 

Your true full name, address, phone number, etc. should never be revealed in a chat room, either in a private message or in a public room. If you have spent a lot of time chatting with a person and feel that it is safe to give more information, do it through E-mail. You might want to set up a special E-mail address through Yahoo or another free E-mail service, to use as your chat E-mail address. In some chat rooms, it is quite easy for people to forge others' accounts and to take on another user's persona.

Parents should never leave their children unsupervised for long periods in a chat room. Although a chat room is safe 95 percent of the time, it does not mean that malicious people cannot visit a chat room. Teach your child to TURN OFF the computer if they do not feel comfortable in a chat room. Teach them NEVER to give out any personal information (see 1), including such information as: Do their parents work, where is their computer in their home, etc.? Teach them NOT to argue with the person, or to engage in conversation with them. That is the role of the parent, to protect the child. Find out who your child is chatting with frequently and ask to meet that person on the net. Ask for their E-mail address, and keep it handy. Don't allow the Internet to be a babysitter for your young child, and make it a habit, just as you do in your life off your computer, to know to whom your teenagers are chatting.

No matter how well you think you might know someone in a chat room, remember that they are probably only showing you a part of their true self. There are some con artists who use chat rooms to scam and misrepresent themselves, often giving hard luck stories of poverty, etc. Some things to think about. If someone says they are homeless and yet are in a chat room for hours on end, where do they get their internet access? If someone says that church after church has turned them away and has not helped them, why do they think that you, as a non professional would be able to help them? Point people towards their local church, social agencies, etc, if they are in desperate situations.

If you are in a chat room and a trouble maker comes in, don't engage them in conversation, including rebuking them, praying for them, screaming at them or whatever. Pointedly ignore them. They are in the room just to get attention. If no attention is paid, they get bored and move on.

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