Children and chatting
Wise parents can make sure that their children are chatting safely online. Here are some points for parents on safe chatting:
1. Use Instant Message Service
Children up to the age of about 13 should chat in closed chat programs and not in open chat channels online. MSN is an example of a good chat program for children, here children decide for themselves who they want to talk with.
2. Know who you’re talking with
All chat friends should have a face before they’re added to your address book, this means you’ve met in real life, and know who owns the address. If a child knows everyone they have on their friends list on for example MSN, then they always know who they’re talking with. If they add people they’ve not met in real life, the possibility increases of meeting someone who pretends to be someone they’re not.
3. Chat in open rooms
Put the computer in an open room instead of putting it in the children’s room. Talk with the children about positive behaviour and expressions when they chat. If the parents wish to check the log in the chat room this should be done together with the child: remember that chatting is perceived as personal. Surveillance can harm the trust between parents and children. Remember to invite your children to talk with you if they have negative experiences online.
4. Children should never meet anyone without company
Children shouldn’t meet anyone in real life that they’ve only chatted with online without having discussed this with their parents first. If your child wishes to meet a net friend, then an adult should accompany them to the meeting.
5. Protect personal information
Your child shouldn’t give out personal information like their mobile phone number, pictures of themselves, their address or other information that can help strangers get in touch with them. They should never accept gifts from anyone they’ve only met online.
6. Keep passwords and logs safe
To avoid strangers logging onto your child’s chat channels, personal web pages or net profiles the child should never share their password or username with others, not even with their friends.
7. Create clever passwords
When passwords are made, try to avoid making it easy for others to guess it. Teach your child good password habits. Using letters, numbers and special characters is a good idea, and vary between capital and small letters.
Eight points of advice on safe chatting for children:
- Don’t share personal information about yourself or others online.
- Don’t trust that people you meet online are who they say they are.
- Don’t believe everything you read, be critical about contents online.
- Be aware of chatters that invite you to private chatrooms.
- Take an adult with you if you want to meet a net friend in real life.
- Use a nickname that doesn't reveal any personal information when you chat. SuperGirl is better than EdinburghJane14.
- Don’t reply to uncomfortable chat messages or e-mails, but rather show them to an adult.
- Talk with a grown up person you trust if something uncomfortable happens to you.