Internet Dangers

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Instant Message &
Chatroom Safety Tips

by Donna Rice Hughes


Tips for Adults
  • Recognize that chatrooms are the playground of today's sexual predator. Even monitored chatrooms offered by some Internet service providers are not able to detect a disquised predator lurking in a chatroom. Therefore, we strongly urge parents to not allow your children to go into chatrooms. Most parental controls and filters offer an option for parents to disallow chatrooms.

  • Place your computer in an area of your home where you can easily monitor your child's Internet activity.

  • Teach your children not to give out personal information to anyone that they do not know in the physical world. Also, teach them never to give out any personal info while they are in a chat room with friends, because there may also be others in the chat room that they do not know.

  • Supervise your child's chat-room activity and only allow your children in monitored chat rooms.

  • Block instant/personal messages from people you and your child don't know. (Check to see which IM services have this feature.)

  • Set time limits and monitor the amount of time your child spends on the Internet, and at what times of day. Excessive time online, especially at night, may indicate a problem.

  • Regularly ask your kids about their online friends and activities. Be present in the room so you can monitor the screen and your child's IM.

  • Do not permit your child to have an online profile which serve as a lightening rod for predators. With this restriction, he or she will not be listed in directories and is less likely to be approached in chat rooms where pedophiles often search for prey.

  • Be aware that when anyone enters a chat room, their email can end up on a spammer's list. This means that participating in chat rooms can increase the likelihood that you will begin receiving unsolicited pornographic email.

Tips for Kids

  • Never give out personal information (such as name, age, address, phone number, school, town, password, schedule, your picture) or fill out questionnaires or any forms online.

  • Never meet in person with anyone you have met online without Mom and/or Dad's presence.

  • Do not enter a chat room without Mom and/or Dad's presence or supervision. Some “kids” you meet in chat rooms may not really be kids; they may be adults with bad intentions. Remember, people may not be who they say they are.

  • Be suspicious of anyone who tries to turn you against your parents, teachers, or friends. They may have a hidden agenda.

  • Never respond to or send email or instant message to new people you meet online. Talk to your parents first so that they can check it out. Also, do not engage in an online conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Log off and tell your parents. If you get such a message, DO NOT respond. Sending a response only encourages the person. Instead, show it to your parents and let them handle it.


© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.