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As a technology, chat rooms actually pre-date the Internet by approximately 15 years, going back to the days of Compu Serve and bulletin board services accessible through dial-up modems.From those humble, text-only beginnings, chat rooms have become a vast worldwide phenomenon, with features now including audio and video capabilities in addition to traditional text-based content.
We should not let the net advocates try to persuade us to expose our children to the dangers of public chat rooms.
Some shamelessly flaunt the message of random connectivity.
For example, one service features the tag line, “Talk to strangers! The thing that sets chat rooms apart from the other technologies discussed in this chapter is that chat rooms enable open access between complete strangers (independent of whether the chat involves text or video).
As soon as either party became bored with the chat, they could click a button and be connected to another random video chat partner.
New understanding Certainly, parents need to be aware of what their children are doing online, but none of us is perfect and always alert to danger.
We can restrict their access, or install safety software, but our kids also need space to grow up, privacy from even their parents, and a sense that they are trusted.
Political issue In the last couple of months my 12-year-old daughter has started chatting to her friends online, and she enjoys the experience greatly. Whatever age verification schemes we might come up with, a determined adult will find a way around them - or just find a way to steal a child's online identity and strike up conversation in an apparently trustworthy space.
One feature which appeals to her greatly is that she can have a private conversation with her school mates even if I'm sitting in the same room, something that she can't do on her phone. She has let me set up her chat service so that only people on her contact list can see she is online or send her messages, and I get to look through her contact list to check that they are all friends I know. In many ways this would be worse than the present situation, where we can at least ask kids to be vigilant about everyone they meet online. Doing this would at least reduce the number of kids exposed to the danger, and it would not deprive of them of any useful or valuable experience.
In a forum, messages are posted publicly (sometimes requiring moderation prior to posting) and conversation threads often form around interesting posts.
The traditional chat room model incorporates a text window in which a user may type a message, which is immediately displayed to all other users in the chat room.
Monitoring every e-mail, sitting in on every chat and checking web access logs is not the way, certainly for the over-10s.