How to Be Safe in the Chat Rooms

Three Parts:Spotting nosy and predatory chattersStaying safeReporting bad behavior in chat rooms

The internet is a place to make new friends. It is easy to just chat with someone. However, you have to be careful and observe carefully to what is being said. After a while, you can recognize if someone is lying or is really becoming a friend. You also have to understand the questions that are asked, because many adults pretend they are young and friendly just to lure the unsuspecting into a trap to meet them for sex. Be careful and watch the information that you give online. Strangers might give gifts to kids like a webcam to do explicit things online


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    Be aware that it is important to be safe but it is also important to be realistic. While the following parts of this article discuss what to be careful of, and are things that both children and adults should be aware of, predators are a lot rarer than much of the scare tactics in online stories and safety software marketers suggest.[1] Many of the people seeking to befriend others in a chat room really are seeking genuine friendship and are often just other children wanting to connect with other children.[1] Approach chat room usage as follows:
    • Put the danger into perspective by being an aware user of chat rooms, not a terrified or suspicious chatter.
    • Know the signs of unsafe interaction so that you can shield yourself and focus instead on enjoying your chat room time.
    • Keep it in the open. Knowing what to look out for can also help you to alert others and to make it publicly evident whenever someone in a chat room appears to be at odds with the safe environment every other user of the chat room wants.

Part 1
Spotting nosy and predatory chatters

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    Watch the disposition of people you don't know online. When a new person approaches you or starts a conversation, be alert to any attempt at probing. If this person starts asking personal or private questions about you, such as where you live or if you are home alone, then he or she is not trying to be friends but is more likely to be a predator. This person may be trying to find out personal information so that he or she can harm you in some way.
    • Stay away from people who behave like this.
    • Do not reply.
    • If the person insists, log off from the chat rooms and even shut off your computer; tell your parents, an older sibling or some other trusted person.
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    Understand that if a person on the chat starts the conversation by asking your age, where you live, your contact number and if your parents work, such questions are a red flag. Understand that any person who is unknown to you but pressures you for such personal information is more likely to be a predator, not someone genuinely seeking friendship.
    • Avoid replying, or do not give out the true information.
    • Make a clear statement, such as: "Hey, I don't know you. Why do you want to know such personal information? That's creepy man."
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    Allow your inner self to hear what they are saying. Suppose someone starts talking to you, and tells you about school. You can chat back and forth without getting personal. They make you laugh and you kid around with them. You talk about teachers, homework, and movies. This is the start of a healthy friendship. Continue with this type of person, but again, be aware for warning signs. This is called a 'red flag' on the Internet. Once you sense a red flag, tell them you are uncomfortable and request to change the topic of conversation. If you continue to find red flags, discontinue the conversation.
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    Be especially alert when any stranger tries to be your friend when it's a "friends only" space. This is a major sign of inappropriate interaction; friends should only be people you know well.

Part 2
Staying safe

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    Listen to your inner sense of something not being right. Feeling that you are mature and competent enough to handle strangers is all well and good. However, sometimes this is a denial of your "icky" feelings, so be alert when your inner gut senses something is wrong and pay attention to it.
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    Do not give out personal information online. The following things should never be shared with strangers online (or via publicly readable/accessible areas of the internet):[1]
    • Your age and real name
    • Your home address
    • Your school address or name of your school
    • Your actual location or when and where you plan to hang out
    • Your workplace address (if you are a teen; adults can decide for themselves)
    • Phone numbers
    • Photographs of yourself, your family, your friends or your pets. Profile photos should be agreed upon with your parents if you are under 16.
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    Avoid using photographs. Even if your photograph doesn't show street names, license plates, or any PI, photographs that show what you (or your friends) look like and who you are can give away enough information to encourage unwanted attention.
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    Immediately cease to talk to a person who makes offers of a meeting, a prize or anything similar. Anything like this is a potential lure to get you to give personal details or even to meet the person offline. Things to be instantly wary of include:[1]
    • An offer to meet famous people, such as pop stars or actors
    • A modeling assignment
    • Cut price tickets to a sporting or other event
    • Gifts of any sort, from electronics to makeup
    • Offers of hacks, cheats, passwords, etc.
    • Any request to appear naked or performing a sexual act; asking sexually charged questions; posting or sending sexually charged/naked photos
    • Offering quick money or money making schemes
    • Bullying
    • Intimidating, such as saying that the person knows where you live, what your family does, where you go to school, etc.
    • Asking to meet with you offline.
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    Keep it public. Always stay in the public chat rooms with people you don't know. If someone you don’t know suggests going into a private chat room so you can talk in private, don’t agree. The public chat rooms have people in them, who will witness (and record) everything shared there. They might notice if there is something wrong. If you are in a private chat room alone with someone, there is no one to help you out.
    • Just because it's public, it doesn't mean you're totally safe. Even if you are in the public chat room and someone says anything which makes you feel uncomfortable, don't respond back. It is best to let this person know you are not going to engage at all.
    • Don’t get together with someone you meet in a chat room. If you really must, meet in a public place and bring along some friends. Most importantly, tell your parents what you're doing.
    • If you do plan to get together and meet, offer to meet in a police station. If they are who they say they are, they should agree to meet there because they have no reason to say no.
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    Use the power of the block. If someone says or does something creepy — block them. Don’t respond. Read the next section about reporting bad behavior in a chat room.

Part 3
Reporting bad behavior in chat rooms

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    Keep a record. If you feel someone is a predator copy what they say into a word document so you can report it to the police and a moderator (if relevant). The more evidence you can provide, the greater the likelihood that something will be done to put a stop to the bad behavior.
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    If you get a message telling you not to tell your parents about your chat or relationship, don't reply. Tell an adult straight away. This is a ruse to keep you quiet, thereby allowing the bad behavior to continue.
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    Report any sexual and profane language such as "You wanna do?". Leave and tell someone, such as the police and your parents, immediately.
    • If the topic turns to sex, always sign out. That can often lead somewhere you don’t want to go.
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    Report cyber-violence. Cyber-violence (unless make-believe, such as shooting orbs of water out of your hands) is not acceptable either. If anyone says "*punches u and u bleed*" or anything like that, leave and tell a trusted adult (or adults), such as the police.
    • Cyber-violence includes pretending that the person knows everything about you and threatening to harm or kill you, your family, your friends or your pets.
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    If someone hurts you or makes you feel uncomfortable, online or offline, always tell someone rather than repressing. Telling is not tattling.
    • If someone says, "Don't be a snitch" when you say you will tell, be reassured one hundred percent that telling is not snitching. Ignore this ruse to try to stop you from exposing their bad behavior and tell an adult or a moderator right away.
    • You may be afraid that your parents will restrict your time online. This is not a good reason to avoid telling your parents what happened. They are in a position to make things safer for you, such as telling the police, monitoring the site, changing the tools you use, etc. Yes, there is a chance they may change your online habits but this is for your safety and longer-term well-being, so put yourself first and get support.
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    Know you are not alone. Many kids get harassed on the Internet, but now you know what to do if you are added to that already large group of kids. You are not the sole person who are embattled in this situation, so don't feel intimidated to report of predators in the chat rooms.


  • Note that just because the chat room is supposed to be just for one gender, or everybody is supposed to be of one religion, on the internet anybody can claim to be anybody else.
  • Remember that what you say in a chat room or instant messaging session is live — you can’t take it back or delete it later.
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the public to know — this includes your full name, your address, phone number, picture or other personal information.
  • Never believe what you read in a profile; it could be someone faking.
  • Keep your passwords private. Don't tell anyone, not even your best friend.
  • It is better not to trust strangers in chat rooms; be wary, and be careful. You can be friendly without giving away your trust.
  • Choose a nickname that’s not sexually suggestive and doesn’t give away your real name. Use a generic name—a name used by a boy or girl when going into a chat room or instant messaging. For example: skater5528, reader2250, patriot4565.
  • Don’t be afraid to block or ignore people you meet online.
  • Use a computer where a parent can easily see it if it is appropriate (like family room, kitchen, or living room, not your bedroom).
  • Chat only in chat rooms run by a company or organization that monitors activity (like moderators and administrators). This provides greater reassurance that those messing about will be removed quickly.
  • PI means Private Information.
  • Do not follow any links that people might send you. For all you know, they could contain viruses or software that could allow someone to hack your device.


  • Any chat program on the Internet, no matter how popular or well known they are, is a source for predators to meet young people. They are not only looking for girls, but some enjoy the company of young boys as well. You never should trust who you are talking to, even if they send you their picture. It might not even be theirs. Never give out personal information or a telephone number. Allow your parents to monitor the conversations with strangers.

Sources and Citations

  1. Lewis, Raising Children in a Digital Age, 2014, ISBN 978-0-7459-5604-6

Article Info

Categories: Internet Security | Keeping Safe Online