Email, IM and Chat Rooms
Through e-mail, users can easily send and receive messages. These messages may also have text, audio and picture files attached. Signing up for an email account is simple, as most services offer them for free and do not check the identities of users. This allows cyberbullies or scam artists to anonymously send harassing messages or spam. Sometimes these messages contain viruses, scams or other inappropriate content, so trusted adults should warn children to be wary of emails from unknown people and monitor their children's email accounts.
IM allows users to exchange real-time messages with people from a list of contacts, also known as a “buddy” list. Children and teens may not know the true identities of their buddies, as IM accounts can be acquired anonymously. Trusted adults should review youth’s buddy lists for unknown contacts, and talk to them about the identities of the people on the lists. Trusted adults should also learn some of the chat acronyms, such as POS (parent over shoulder) and A/S/L (age/sex/location), which children use to communicate over IM. This will help you be aware of anyone saying anything inappropriate to your child.
Chat rooms are online hang-out spots where anyone can talk about anything. Users often do not know each other in real life, so it is important that trusted adults keep a close eye on the content of any conversations.
Chat rooms offer features which allow users to chat through private, one-on-one messages. Predators may use this to entice children into conversations about sex and offline meetings. Parents and guardians should be aware of secretive behavior, such as a child minimizing the screen when an adult enters the room.
- Know who your child is communicating with online.
- Open a family email account to share with younger children.
- Work with your child to brainstorm screennames and email addresses that do not contain information about gender, identity, location and avoid being suggestive.
- Teach your child never to open emails from unknown senders and to use settings on IM programs to block messages from people they do not know.
- Be aware of other ways your child may be going online like cell phones, laptops, friends’ homes or the library.
- Tell your child not to share passwords with anyone but you to help avoid identity theft and cyberbullying.
- Familiarize yourself with popular acronyms at sites like www.netlingo.com andwww.noslang.com/.
Most of the information on this site came from netsmartz.org.