Unfortunately, things that are free (particularly when it’s within the context of the internet) often tend to attract a lot of abuse.
Internet chat rooms for teenagers might just be one of the best examples of that abuse.
Chat rooms were initially intended to be social places for constructive group and person to person interaction, which is certainly a valid idea and a worthwhile pursuit. However the medium of the internet chat room didn’t hold that idea well, as instant Spectrum Internet communication moved over to messages platforms like AIM, and eventually social media.
While all free internet mediums are subject to abuse and misuse (take Twitter for example), it seems as if chat rooms have become particularly infested with spam, fake accounts, identity thieves and worse.
There’s nothing that anybody can do about it, save one thing: Stay away from the chat rooms.
Especially for young kids, the abuse that goes on in internet chat rooms has become a matter of safety. Even for adults, the number of reasons to avoid chat rooms, regardless of your marital status or family situation, is rising.
Here are a few of the more persuasive reasons to write off chat room use for good in this year.
1. They’re pretty much a 90s thing — As I’ve already pointed out, the concept behind chat rooms has migrated to other platforms, making most chat rooms almost obsolete, even in the online dating world.
Perhaps they held a little relevancy past year 2000, but not much. They’re essentially a “90s” thing — like home phones or fax machines, chat rooms have no real value anymore, and have been replaced by more reliable, robust and safe technology.
2. You’re probably “chatting” with someone in law enforcement — To be clear, chat rooms still get a lot of use, but the people who use them are often either police officers working a sting operation, or the “users” that they’re looking for. The suggested guidelines given to police who work these sting operations are usually just enough to avoid the possibility of a defendant using entrapment to get an acquittal.
Keep in mind that if that person is you, you’ll have no idea that you’re talking to a police officer. That means if you slip up and say something you shouldn’t, they’ve got your IP address, and by way of your internet service provider, your name and physical address.
All that means is that you’ve got one great reason to stay away from chat rooms entirely.
3. Chances are that you’re dealing with few genuine or “real” people — Bots, affiliate ads, automated web cam messages and users who are lying about their identity are all part of the regular cast in most chat rooms. So much so, that in many chat rooms (depending on which site you use) you’ll find that almost everyone will fall into one of these categories.
This makes it next to impossible to have an honest and genuine conversation with anyone. If that’s what you’re looking for, a chat room is probably one of the worst places to make it happen.
4. It can compromise your thought process — Talking to someone in a chat room has little (if any) real world implications, at least that’s how it feels.
That feeling of inconsequence, combined with the presence of law enforcement waiting to pounce, puts any one person in a precarious situation, where they’re likely to slip up and say something they wouldn’t normally say. It’s just so easy to do when you have no idea who the other person is and when conversation is so easy and inconsequential.
It means that you’ll essentially be willing to say (type) things that you wouldn’t normally say. Again, even if your intentions are good, it’s still a recipe for disaster.
5. There are better ways to meet people — Smart phone apps, credible online dating sites or the novel idea of actually going out and meeting people in person are all far better alternatives for finding friendship, companionship or just striking up a casual conversation.
The biggest drawback of internet chat rooms, even aside from all the nonsense that they facilitate, is that there are just a lot of better ways to meet people. So if any kind of meaningful conversation is your primary goal, opt for a better medium. Not only are you more likely to form genuine friendships, but you’ll save yourself from the risk and dangers of internet chat rooms.
Safety and Privacy
When using the internet, you need to place your own safety and privacy above whatever else you’re trying to accomplish. Most internet chat mediums exist in complete disregard for both those things, and anyone who uses them is going to be subject to the resulting abuse.
Make sure that you understand the dangers and risks involved, and be sure to at least impart that knowledge to your kids if you have them, if not block the sites entirely.
It might seem like overkill, but the safety of your family should take precedence over the freedom of chat room use.