Its an unfortunate reflection of the state we find society in today, but with just about everything we do these days we have to guard against those who would take advantage of us or have malicious intent toward us.
Whilst chatting online is a fun and rewarding experience, it does have some drawbacks which the user needs to guard against. Safety must be kept in mind at all times, so I thought it would be neglectful of me not to include a online safety guide amongst these articles.
In particular in the realm of online chat, the younger members of our community are at risk.
The main things to keep in mind
- NEVER give out your address online unless the party you are talking to you is some you can trust really REALLY well, even then think twice before giving out your details
- ALWAYS supervise minors, use filters and take an interest in who they are talking to, DO NOT leave them unsupervised
- REMEMBER you can never be sure who or what the intention of the person is you are chatting with.
- DO NOT arrange “Real Life” meets unless you are meeting in a group or in a busy place (ie coffe shop or mall)
It really just comes down to common sense most of the time, just keep in mind that the person you are chatting to, may not be who they appear to be online, always err on the side of caution, if things don’t feel right or your intuition tells you to run, then most chat environments allow you to block / ignore the person.
If they do get a hold of your phone number or address and harass you, DO contact authorities immediately.
Let me reiterate, for kids please make sure you are supervising them, In my household there wouldn’t be computer with internet access in the kids bedroom, if they want to chat online they could do so in an area where a parent could be close by and with the screen positioned that it could be seen at any time, I don’t mean we have to sit there and ruin their time online by looking at everything they are doing, but you can never be too safety conscious when it comes to your kids.
A good site to check out more information on safety for the various instant messaging programs is www.wiredsafety.org, there is a link from the image at the top of this article to the main site, its worth a read as it contains a lot of information re safety online.
Having said all that, don’t let it deter you, online chatting is one of the best ways to meet friends, form relationships, broaden your mind and have a lot of fun! Like most things in life you just have to keep safety in mind.
We will be looking at the various safety features of each program reviewed here at a later date. In the meantime let us know what you do to be safe online…