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Are Kids' Chat Rooms Safe?

By: Charlotte Fereday - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Are Kids' Chat Rooms Safe?

There are kids chat rooms designed specially for children. But how secure are they? And can you be sure that your child is safe using them?

How Are Kids’ Chat Rooms Different?

There are internet forums and online chat rooms dedicated to every subject under the sun, and there are almost as many designed for kids as there are for adults.

Chat rooms for children are usually themed. This may take the form of an adventure or fantasy world where children choose a character and they are given ‘tasks’ to complete. They meet other children playing the game and can chat to each other to help each other in their ‘quests’.

Other chat rooms are dedicated to kids interests from horses to bikes and sport to arts and crafts. Children can make friends and chat about shared interests.

Keep It Clean

Usually the ‘chat’ element of these sites is strictly monitored with language controls that check spelling and prohibit obscene or inappropriate language. Because these controls check for correct spelling as well as obscenities it is impossible to sneak bad language in by replacing letters with other characters.

On sites where kids can upload their own content all uploads are monitored to keep offensive images out of public view.

Cyber Bullying

A lesser known problem with kids’ chat rooms is that bullying is often harder to identify than obscenity and your child might be being intimidated by other children online. This could be kids that they know through school or just other users of the chat room. If you think your child is being cyber bullied report it to the site moderator immediately.

All this goes towards creating a safe online environment for children that is free from adult content. But it doesn’t stop adults registering on the site pretending to be children.

Keep Your Child Safe From Predators

The safest way to protect your child in Kids’ Chat rooms is to teach them some basic safety tips; it’s a bit like learning to cross the road. If you follow the guidelines you’re less likely to get run over.
  • Never give out your real name or address
  • Never tell anyone you meet on the internet your phone number
  • If you want to meet an online friend take a parent with you
  • Don’t download files from people you don’t know
  • Don’t tell anyone your age until you’re sure you can trust them
  • Don’t send your photo to anyone without asking a parent first
  • If anyone is making you feel uncomfortable tell your parents and the person who runs the site

Instant Messenger (IM) And Social Networking

There’s more to online chat than chat rooms. Many social networking sites have an instant messenger, or chat, function where members can have real time conversations with their online contacts and friends.

The main social networking sites have minimum age limits of 13 or 14 because they cannot guarantee that the content is appropriate for children younger than that. If you have a child under 13 with a profile on one of the major social networking sites they will have had to give a false date of birth to create their page.

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