On The Web - Chatrooms - Instant Messaging - E-Mail - Peer-to-Peer - Newsgroups & Forums - Social Networking


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 them altogether.

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.