It is safe to say that no one in their right mind is going to be trying to attract predators. Most of us put our online-selves in harm’s way unintentionally. But fortunately, there are rules that, if followed, can help us avoid attracting predators when chatting online. Some examples of these rules are listed below.
Only chat with those who you know personally
Chatting online is a great way to communicate with loved ones who live far away. However, many people also use chatting to meet new people. There is an inherent danger to communicating with strangers. Many of us strongly counsel our children, or were ourselves warned about the danger of strangers. Although not every stranger that you chance to chat with is going to be a predator, you really have no way of knowing. A person in a chat room can pose as anyone that they wish. When all that you have is a description of a person that is written by that person, you are subjecting yourself to a lot of dangerous variables. You can do the most to protect yourself against predators by only speaking with those you know in secure chat rooms that are protected from prying eyes.
Leave your personal information off-line
There are all kinds of predators that you need to watch out for when you are online. Some predators will look to gain your trust and then take advantage of you by stealing your identity. Other predators will do worse by seeking out a meeting with you to do physical harm. And then there are predators that you may never even know about. Predators who watch your chat room conversations from outside of the conversation and meticulously gain whatever useful information that they can to later take advantage of you. So what sort of defense do you have against predators that you may not even know exist? You can protect yourself by leaving your personal information off-line. A predator cannot cause damage if you do not give him ammunition. Information such as your full name, address, phone number, banking information, school, place of work, etc. does not need to be communicated in a chat room. Anything that connects your on-line self to your off-line self is dangerous. Use firewalls and chat room mediators to ensure that the rooms that you do visit are as secure as they can possibly be. Also, just as you protect your own personal information, you should protect the information of those you love. Do not divulge personal information about others while you are in your own chat room conversations.
Stay gender neutral and avoid flirtatious conversation
When you are chatting online, another type of protection that you have is your anonymity. If an individual that you are talking to has no way of identifying you, your risk is minimized. You can do this by being very vague in your communications as it pertains to anything personal. Do not use a screen name that would single out your gender and do not chat using terms that are at all flirtatious or able to be interpreted as inappropriate.
Let other people monitor your conversations
Put your computer in a public place. When anyone walking by is able to see what you are chatting about, most people tend to be more cautious about censoring what they say. Also, there are ways to log your online conversations. When you have your chats logged, if something inappropriate or threatening is said in a chat, you have evidence of the fact and can provide the police with this information that will assist in the prosecution of potentially dangerous online predators.