Shantal asks: Where can I find a safe chat room for teens like me?
Hi Shantal –
Chat rooms can be a really fun thing – a way to connect with and talk to new people, from the safety and comfort of your own home or computer. They can also be a dangerous way for creepy people to find children and teens so they can do bad things to them.
There’s no way of knowing if a chat room is perfectly safe. Anyone can get in there. So your job is to make sure you’re safe, no matter what.
The main secret to this is to not use or give any identifying information about yourself. For example, when you joined my Pack, you probably noticed that I said I didn’t want you using your full name or email address as your Pack Name, because I didn’t want anyone to be able to track you down. If you go into a chat room, definitely use a fake name. And if someone asks you questions about yourself, don’t say anything that could help them find you.
So for example, if you want to say “I’m BlackKeysFan3284, I’m a twelve year old boy, and live in a farm town in northern England,” that’s probably enough information for anyone there. When someone asks you “What town,” or “What school do you go to,” or worse, “What street do you live on,” just ignore them, politely refuse, or, if you feel you need to, lie (best lie of all: give them the address of a police station as your home!).
But if they want to ask you about anything that doesn’t identify you – “What’s your favorite movie,” “Do you like Justin Bieber,” “Do you play Dragonvale” – anything like that is fine.
Now, if someone in a chat room starts to say or ask really inappropriate things, like angry, violent, obscene, or sexual things – you have every right to just log out. Don’t let anyone intimidate you into thinking you have to stay there while they’re being abusive. You always have the right to protect yourself. That’s what makes chat rooms safe.
Of course, if you get confused at all about what to do, go to your parent or guardian and ask their help. They will have pretty good ideas of what to do to protect you.
So be careful, Shantal. But as long as you are, there’s no reason you can’t go into any chat room and have a very fun time, and get to know lots of people who share your interests.