The best way to avoid predators in chat rooms is to be educated concerning the threats that they are to us. Internet predators seek to take advantage of the false sense of security that so many of us have when we are online. A lack of understanding of the technology of spyware and hackers allows predators to use these technological tools against us.
One of the biggest helps in the battle against predators in chat rooms is filtering and firewall software. Filtering software prevents a specific user from visiting sites that are inappropriate, and a firewall is like a security wall around the site that you are visiting. Firewalls protect you from the prying eyes of potential predators and keep your information from being too easily stolen.
Parents also have the responsibility of educating themselves and their children. Just like most things in life, children need rules and boundaries to keep them safe from others who would seek to take advantage of them. Parents need to set rules for their child’s Internet use including what kind of activities are and are not acceptable in chat rooms. How can a parent set these rules if they themselves know nothing about cyberspace? This is just the problem that so many households face. Parents do not know how to control the problem of avoiding predators in chat rooms because they may not even know what a chat room is. The Internet is a relatively new innovation, and there are new websites, trends and threats presented every day. Do not let your lack of education be the reason for your child’s subjection to online predators. Be responsible, do your research, and know enough about the Internet, chat rooms, etc. to be able to protect your children.
Children are not completely blameless either. The basic principle of not approaching or talking to strangers applies online just as it applies in real life. You would not walk up to a complete stranger on the street and tell them your personal information, so why would you do the same online? Add to that the fact that the people who are in chat rooms may or may not be who they say they are. Consider how easy it would be for an adult man to pose as a teenage boy in a chat room. How would you ever know the difference? You need to be on your guard when you are online. Sometimes predators are trickier and will not come right out and ask you for your information. What they do instead is slowly gain more and more information through a series of potentially harmless questions. These may be as simple as “what are your hobbies?” or “what do you like to do after school?” One question may lead to another and before you even realize it a predator may know exactly where you will be at any given time.
You would not send your children into a room of strangers un-supervised, would you? The concept is the same here. Parents need to spend time with their kids online to get a feel for the kinds of sites that they visit and the kinds of chat rooms that they are a part of. Review your child’s “buddy list.” A buddy list is a list of the people that your child chats with often. Make sure that you know every one on that list and that your child can tell you exactly who each one of those people are.
There are ways to avoid predators in chat rooms but it takes some work on everyone’s part. No one is ever completely safe from an online predator, but these are definitely ways to make yourself a less appealing target.