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→BEHIND the CHATRoOMS | cc.newspaper



→BEHIND the CHATRoOMS
→BEHIND the CHATRoOMS
When children are in a chat area they are in a very public "place". They do not necessarily know the true identity of anyone they are talking to in the chat room.

Those who would wish to harm children can prey on those in chat rooms who appear to be left out or lonely. They can pretend to be supportive and sympathetic in order to gain the trust of the young person by being willing to "listen" to their problems and provide friendship.

This question of anonymity has raised major security issues with chat rooms. There is no way to really believe or trust a person you have never met except through conversation online. Many parents are leery of their children getting sucked into this alternate world, due to the number of pedophiles and perverts that have been caught preying on teens in chat rooms, posing as someone else.

Chat rooms allow you to meet many people you do not know, and while this can lead to fun friendships, it can also be a way for people who mean you harm to gain access to you.

You enter a chat room, strike up a conversation with someone, and before you know it, you have made a new friend. You need to remember that people can pretend to be whoever they want to be online. You may meet someone online who seems sympathetic and understanding, who gives you advice and seems to be your friend.

You can be talking to someone who calls herself Suzy and claims she is 10 years old, who is really a 40-year-old male who is looking to exploit you.

Chat is a very popular activity for young people, especially teenagers, but it is also probably the most dangerous area on the Internet where they are most likely to get into trouble.

There are dozens of means of chatting on the Internet, but no matter how you chat, keep in mind that the Internet is largely anonymous. A friendly stranger in a chat room is still a stranger and not an ideal person for you to trust with your phone number or other personal information.

Some chat rooms are just open conversations with no moderation where everyone has a pretty much equal role; some are moderated by a "leader" who leads the discussion and participants; while others have chaperons or monitors who are responsible for maintaining order and assess what people write before anyone else gets to see it. The monitor can reprimand or even kick someone out of the room who is acting in an inappropriate manner, but he or she can't, however, prevent teens from going off to a private chat area with a person who might do harm to them or put them in danger.

The anonymity of chat rooms can encourage some people to harass others.

More than any other place online, chat rooms are grounds for pedophiles and other predators trying to make contact with young people. In the anonymous atmosphere of the Internet, where kids feel free to be honest, conversations can quickly become intimate. Kids, especially older one, participating in chat rooms they find titillating, may engage in flirting, or even cybersex. It's not uncommon for teens to make "friends" in chat rooms. Teens enter a room; start a conversation with someone who gains their confidence by being sympathetic and willing to "listen" to their problems and offers them wonderful advice or counsel and before they know it, they've established a relationship that can lead to them being cyberstalked, sent pornography, or even pressured to arrange a real-world meeting.

Most chat programs include the option to send private messages, or chat one-on-one.

These private chats are sometimes called instant messages, or buddy chats. Once someone gets you into a private chat, he or she can say anything to you and no one else can see. Sometimes people will include links to offensive material like pornography in their private chat messages. Private chats have been used by pedophiles to lure their victims into talking with them on the telephone and meeting them in person. Do not accept invitations to chat alone with people you do not know.Never give out personal information such as your real name, telephone number, and address. If you live in a small town, it's best to let people know the state you live in.

As a parent it is impossible to monitor what your children do on the PC 100% of the time. With the dangers of online predators growing you should take precautions now to find out if there is a problem before it's too late.

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