| Chatrooms let you have a conversation with people
around the block or around the world. It’s like being on a party
line, only you type instead of talk. Everyone in the “chatroom”
can see everything you type.
Types of chatrooms tend to be different. Some chatrooms are just
open conversations where everyone has an equal role. Some rooms
are moderated where a “speaker” leads the chat and tries
to keep everything in order. Some rooms have chaperons or monitors
who try to make sure things don’t get out of hand and can
kick people out of the room if they don’t behave. Even so,
in some of these rooms what you type is seen right away by everyone.
And the monitor can’t prevent you from going off to a private
chat area with a person who may want to hurt you or type information
that may put you in danger.
A chatroom is probably the most dangerous area on the Internet.
You never know who is in one, so never type anything you wouldn’t
say in public.
It’s not uncommon for people to meet in chatrooms. You enter
a room; start chatting with someone; and, before you know it, you’re
having a conversation. That relationship may turn out OK, but there
are some not-so-happy stories. Chatrooms are sometimes used by people
to take advantage of others. To put it bluntly, chatrooms —
especially those used by teenagers — are sometimes also used
by child molesters to find victims. Adults or even older teens seeking
to exploit younger people don’t necessarily tell the truth
about who they are. Even teens your own age may try to hurt you.
You have the right to remain in control of your own experiences.
You don’t have to accept inappropriate behavior from anyone.
You may meet people in a room who seem to have a lot in common
with you. They may be friendly and good listeners too. If the dialog
remains strictly online, that may be OK. Just be careful not to
give out any personal information.
You may want to get together with someone you meet in a chatroom,
but remember – people are not always who they seem to be.
Never give out personal information and never arrange a face-to-face
meeting with someone you first “meet” in a chatroom
unless your parents or guardians have said it’s OK.
Stay away from chatrooms that get into subjects associated with
sex or cults or groups that do potentially dangerous things. It
may seem interesting or fun, but some people may take you seriously
or try to convince you to do something you don’t want to do.
Be particularly suspicious of anyone who tries to turn you against
your parents, guardians, teachers, or friends.
On some services and web sites you can enter into a private chat
area. Once there you can arrange to meet people. In some cases those
rooms are truly private, but in other cases they may be listed in
a directory of rooms. If so, there is nothing to stop others from
entering those rooms. So be extra careful in these rooms, or avoid
A smart way to avoid harassment in a chatroom is to choose a name
that doesn’t let people know if you’re a girl or guy.
Just make sure the name doesn’t let anyone know anything about
you or mean something that may encourage others to bother you.