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While chat rooms for kids present themselves as safe places for kids to connect, are they safe?
While you want your child to use the Internet to take advantage of all the useful information on it, you also want to avoid inherent dangers. So the most important thing you can do is to supervise children while they are online, reports the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
The biggest online danger children face is a pedophile trying to engage them, according to the U. Alternatives to Chat Rooms Larry Magid, a co-founder of Connect Safely and the founder of Safe Kids, says, "Chat rooms for kids, while they still exist, are pretty much on the outs with most young people." He notes that many kids have switched to chat apps like Yik Yak, Whisper and ask.fm, but he acknowledges that kids are still using chat rooms and parents should make sure they're safe. There's no cursing on the site, and it has anti-bullying, anti-drug and anti-smoking messages." Marks' site deletes messages that contain personal information and teaches kids why that's a bad practice.
The foundations parents lay will help kids self-police as they grow into the adult digital space, says Phelps.
And check out these 5 Dangers of Social Media to Discuss With Your Kids.
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"Parents must teach the lessons of common decency in real life and online from a very early age," says Chris Phelps, the founder of the Campaign for Kindness, a program she developed that teaches kids ways to speak kindly to each other in the classroom, the playground and on the Internet.
Also, be sure you're up on your current acronyms.
"In the digital arena," Phelps says, "kids are exposed to a whole new language that they hide behind (for example, the acronym PIR for 'parent in room' and LMIRL for 'let's meet in real life')."Take-Away Tip Whatever Internet rules your family establishes, make sure they're consistent.If you don't allow chatting, your babysitter shouldn't allow it.Make the Experience Fun and Safe Chat rooms for kids can be fun.If you decide to let yours use them, you don't want to scare them by only telling the dangers.The University of Michigan Health System says spending time with your child on the Internet can help them and you feel more comfortable. When your child receives a friend request, make it a rule that you need to meet the friend first.Being a kind person in chat rooms helps kids have a positive experience.