Computer Crime Division

Risks of chat / messaging

Chat / Messaging

Chat is a very popular activity for young people, especially teenagers, but it is also the area where they are most likely to get into trouble. When you're in a chat area, it's easy to forget that you are in a public "place" and that you don't necessarily know the true identity of anyone in the chat room. It's common to "meet" someone in a chat area who gains your confidence by being sympathetic and willing to "listen" to your problems. Children and especially teens need to be extremely careful in chat rooms. They should never reveal their identify and they should never assume that someone is as he or she seems to be. They should NEVER agree to meet someone in person based on a friendly online chat without talking to their parents. If parents agree to the meeting, they or another adult should be present and it should be in a public place.

Instant messaging is like chat, except that it's usually a one-on-one experience instead of a group activity. In some ways that's safer if the person the child is messaging is a friend or relative. But it can be dangerous if it's a stranger. Unlike in some chat rooms, there is never anyone else there to monitor activity, so when your child is messaging another person it's as if the two of them are together in a private room.

Ways to avoid problems in chat rooms: