Learning to say No

Chat Room safety tips are an important way to prepare children for going online. As they get older, it will be impossible for you to supervise them all the time, but you can give them some basic advice to help them stay out of trouble. The trouble is, they’ll also need to learn how to use it.

It’s one thing to know what is and is not acceptable in a chat room, but it’s another thing to possess the social skills necessary to back out of a situation which is transgressing those limits. Many adults struggle with this, and it’s even more difficult for children. Since they lack the life experience which builds confidence and since they’re continually encouraged to obey authority, they can have difficulty standing up for themselves, especially against adults. Online predators understand this and take advantage of children’s uncertainties.

When you make a list of Chat Room safety tips, it will naturally include things like discontinuing any conversation which starts to become sexual. But how can children be sure when a conversation has reached that point? Predators often proceed slowly, for instance by starting out with seemingly innocent questions about things like height and weight and moving on to gradually more explicit questions about bodies. At some point, most children will start to feel uncomfortable, but they’ll probably also worry about causing offence by ‘jumping to conclusions’ in case the discussion really isn’t intended that way. As boundaries get blurred, they’ll become increasing vulnerable and find it increasingly difficult to back out.

It’s important to help children understand that they have the right to say no as soon as they feel uncomfortable, and that anybody who deserves their friendship will respect this. Dropping a conversation isn’t the same as making an offensive allegation, whatever other people may claim – it’s just about asserting their own right to set boundaries.

Although it’s wise to be wary of potential internet predators, they’re a lot less dangerous in a chat room than they are in person. Learning to say no in this relatively restricted environment, where it’s easy to call an adult for support and reassurance, will help to provide your children with excellent skills to make them safer in the rest of their lives.

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