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What is important to know about the Internet and the chat room

Tips to protect yourself from unpleasant experience in the chat room

The Internet enables us to communicate with a large number of people. We can connect with children and adults from different cities and villages, even from very distant parts of the world. What is especially attractive to the youth is that the Internet enables anonymity, which is impossible to achieve by any other means of communication. This anonymity liberates and induces people into communicating more intimately than they would do it in personal contacts, which means that anybody can figure as whoever and be what they want to be. Sometimes adults who do not have friendly intentions may figure as children. It is important to bear in mind that you know about your online friends as much as they have said about themselves.

Sometimes adults with a hidden agenda can only be in the chat room, without participating in the chat actively. That way they collect information about the child and her/his interests. When they start chatting with the child, they usually ask general questions because everybody in the chat room can see the messages. After that the adult may suggest a private forum for further communication, which is supported by most programs. At that point a paedophile will try to detect how safe it is to talk to the child asking questions like ‘Are you home alone?’, ‘Who else uses your computer?’ or ‘In which room is your computer?’

If you are in such a situation and say that you are home alone, that the computer is in your room and that you are the only user, the paedophile will continue the chat and will try to win your trust with a series of questions.

First the paedophile wants to establish trust pretending he is your friend and talking about common things like school, going out, music, hobbies and interests. Then chat about sexuality starts. In order to convince you that it is normal and that ‘everybody does it’, the paedophile may, by e-mail, send photographs showing other people or children in such activities.

Having sent the photographs, the paedophile may try to increase the level of confidence between you by asking you to erase the photographs because ‘you may be in trouble if anybody else sees the pictures’, and may also tell s/he trusts you to keep everything secret and never tell anybody about the chat. This type of communication going on, the paedophile will want to meet you.

Here are some tips how you can  protect yourself from unpleasant experience in the chat room:

  • Never tell your password to anybody.
  • Never give information about your true identity, like your first name, family name, your parents’ names, telephone number, home address, parents’ workplaces, your school name, your parents’ credit card number, neither in the chat room nor by e-mail to anybody you do not personally know. No matter how nice somebody may seem on the Internet, it is nevertheless a stranger who can be an adult pretending to be a child.
  • Never accept a present in exchange for your address or some other information without your parents’ consent.
  • Never send a photograph or a description of yourself or your family members. You never know what that person is going to do with your photos. A little skill and basic graphic programs enable photo montage.
  • Never continue the chat which makes you feel uncomfortable or which becomes too personal. Simply quit it, close the site or move to another site on the Internet. Tell your parents what has happened.
  • Never answer e-mail messages which are indecent, suggestive or make you feel uncomfortable. Tell your parents if it happens. It is important to know that it is not your mistake if it has happened. The message has not arrived because you have been doing something wrong.
  • If you want to meet your online friend, do not go to the first meeting alone. Remember that you know about your online friends as much as they have said about themselves. Your parents must know about this and it is good that they accompany you when you first meet your online friends.
  • Meet at a public place, and if the friend is a child, s/he should also bring parents. That way everybody feels safe. Anyway, if your friend really wants you for a friend, parents will not be a problem.