Let’s Chat About Safety

If your children are on the Internet they’re inevitably going to end up in chat rooms. You just can’t watch them all the time. The best thing you can do is assume that they’ll be talking to strangers in some way on the Web – whether it’s e-mail, instant messaging, forums, blogs or chat rooms. They need to know some safety tips about participating in chat rooms and other online conversation.

You must sit your children down and talk to them about chat room safety tips.

Here are a few:

* Teach your children to guard their personal information arduously. Tell them they should never reveal their name, their age, their phone number, address, the school they attend, the city in which they live, anything about their schedule, or their online password, to any site, form or person on the Web that they don’t personally know. They should not be showing their picture online either.

* One of the most important rules that children must fully understand is the danger of meeting someone in person just because they have met them on the Internet. No matter what the circumstances and how well they think they know the person they met on the Web, your son or daughter should have you or your spouse or another adult caregiver present if and when they meet this chat friend.

* Children should not ever enter an online chat room until and unless the chat room has been visited and approved by a parent or other adult caregiver. Ideally the caregiver would be right there beside them as they chat. Reality is that won’t happen because your child, especially your teen, will sneak to chat. All you can do is impress upon them the dangers and the warning signs that the person is not who he or she says she is.

* Your child should clearly understand that a stranger who makes comments that are negative about you or your child’s other parent or guardian is probably up to no good. That is often how predators lure children, by empathizing with their rebellion against their parents and pretending to be a true understanding friend.

* Your children should not have e-mail or instant messaging conversations with people they meet in chat rooms on the Web. This is taking it to the next level of intimacy and it also reveals more about your child than it is wise to reveal.

If you can teach your child these chat room safety tips and make her or him realizing that it’s for their own good you’ll keep them safe on the Web.

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