Looking for safe chat rooms for your children as well as for yourself? Chat rooms are a favorite interactive stop on the Internet for people of all ages. These virtual rooms provide a place for people to meet on the Internet and to hold real-time chats. These conversations aren't vocal, but are typewritten. Each participant sees what others type.
Supervised Chat Rooms
If safety is a concern when it comes to chat room participation for yourself or your children, consider the use of supervised chat rooms. Different levels of supervision are available depending on what site you visit. It's worth researching what type of supervision is present before you join any site. Chat rooms fall under various categories when it comes to supervision or moderation:
- Open environment - no supervision or moderation
- Moderated discussions - the chat room has leaders who direct and moderate the discussion
- Monitored chat rooms - monitors have access to what participants write before the text can be viewed by the others. Monitors have the authority to reprimand people who don't follow the rules. If participants continue to misbehave, the monitors have the right to boot them out of the chat room.
Pros and Cons to Children Chatting
Should you let your children participate in chats? What's the benefit and what's the downside?
People who are wary of chats all together might not stop to realize that they do provide a wide range of positive opportunities including:
- Chatting with people with similar interests in a controlled and kid-friendly atmosphere
- Making new friends around the world and keeping in touch-much like pen pals only there's not waiting for a reply as chats occur in real time
- Educational - chatting with teachers and experts about topics of interest
Not everyone follows the rules of Netiquette. Chat discussions can:
- Become sexually explicit or encourage sexual harassment
- Become violent
- Promote hateful attitudes
- Become fertile hunting grounds for pedophiles and other predators
- Open the way to make friends with strangers that can lead to other unfavorable situations like being cybertalked, sent sexually explicit material, or even being pressured into meeting in the real world.
Safe Chat Rooms for Children
Parents have the right to be concerned regarding the well being of their children and their use of chat rooms. It's a good idea to go over the disadvantages of participating in a chat with your kids before they experience them. Here are a few tips to keep your kids informed and safe:
Chat Room Safety Tips
- Choose the level of security you deem appropriate for safe chat rooms.
- Don't leave all the monitoring to the chat room supervisors. Keep an eye on your child's chatting habits.
- Double check that your children are visiting sites you have pre-approved, and that they do not leave the public chatting area for a private room.
- Learn chat room abbreviations so you know what is being said
- Teach you kids never to respond to a message that makes them uncomfortable
- Never, ever agree to meet someone from a chat in real life without talking it over with parents or another adult in a position of authority.
- Only use monitored chat rooms
- Teach your children not to give out personal information including their real name or what town they live in. In fact, it is best to choose a gender neutral nickname
Kids.com provides moderated chat rooms where kids can chat with other kids all over the world. In their Idea Seekers Chat, members create customizable avatars which can be used to explore the universe as they chat with others. Registration is required.
Kidzworld offers moderated chat rooms for children and teens. The site is targeted towards children but also offers resources for parents and teachers.