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Using Chat Rooms and Instant Messaging: Internet Safety Advices for Kids Chat rooms and instant messaging are potential havens for online predators and opportunist on kids' weaknesses and innocence. Unfortunately, these means of communication are so popular among kids and it is very difficult, if not impossible to ban the use of these. So to make sure that you are still safe while using chat rooms and instant messaging, it is important that you understand properly the dangers of these services and the ways to avoid them. Important Safety Advices for Kids • Don't trust anyone you meet in the chat rooms. People aren't necessarily who they say they are online. • Chat rooms often ask for profiles, make sure that you don't give personal information and leave as much blanks as you can. • The best way to create relationships is by meeting people personally and not in the chat rooms. In this regard, it isn't safe to build relationships online and meet them personally afterwards. • Choose moderated and child-friendly rooms. Stay in public chat rooms and don't engage in private conversation with people you don't know. Ignore any private messages from unknown people. • If you entertain private chat, don't give any personal information such as your name, phone number, address, email address, credit card or bank account information, pictures, and school details. IM softwares aren't encrypted so sending sensitive information such as bank account or credit card numbers can be picked up by other users with the right tools. • If you aren't comfortable talking to someone online, ignore his/her message. Stay away from people harassing you. Report them if necessary. • Talk to your parents if you have experienced unpleasant or uncomfortable conversation to others. • Don't use your real name; use a nickname. • Don't use your primary email; use an alternative one. • Don't allow other people to view your webcam. Don't use a webcam if unnecessary. • Don't accept unsolicited files from other people. Disable automatic downloads. If you ask for a file, scan it first with your antivirus before opening. • Listen to your parents. • Don't engage in fighting with anyone in the room. You may not follow everything stated above but remember this: you make consequence through your actions so better be safe at all times than suffer the consequences later.
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