Chatting Online | Risks & the Tips to Stay Safe
The advent of Internet has opened up a wide range of possibilities for people of all age groups and abilities. Nowadays, you can easily carry out real-time communication with your friends and family located in any part of the world through chat apps, email and other popular web-based tools. More and more people are using smart phone apps these days to chat with, find and make new friends. Although the idea of gathering more followers/friends seems very appealing, particularly to teens, it also exposes them to the risk of being exploited by online predators. Hence, it’s extremely important for parents to know about all such chat apps/services that kids/teens use these days.
For instance, Omegle is one such platform where people can indulge in random conversations with strangers, acquaintances, or even friends from all over the world. However, such conversations can often become inappropriate, resulting in an Omegle ban for users. As there are no major checks while signing up for these apps, the same users can reuse the app using a different identity and resume their predatory activities.
Let’s take you through the common risks involved in such chats on the Internet and how you can stay safe.
Fake profiles – as highlighted above, people with malicious intentions can easily open accounts with these chat apps, often without the need of any identity verification. Hence, it is commonplace to find many fake profiles on such services. People holding these fake profiles can lure innocent teens and adults to share confidential information, which can thereafter be used to exploit them.
Improper encryption – many online chat apps don’t provide absolute encryption for the information shared on their platforms. Furthermore, anyone running such an app on public Wi-Fi platforms faces an increased risk of his/her data getting compromised.
Account hacks – this one’s another very common problem faced in online chat apps. Skilled hackers can easily hack into people’s chat accounts and extract confidential data, which can then be used for wrong purposes.
Here’s more on the dangers of Internet chat rooms.
Tips to Stay Safe
Avoid using your real identity – ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do!’ If you’re going to interact with strangers, never use an online ID that consists of your real name. Furthermore, abstain from giving out any personal information during such chats, which can be used for identifying and/or locating you, including your photographs, your first/last name, places you visit, state, city, street address, institute/school you go to, office you work in, etc.
Don’t trust anyone – although it’s fine to interact with your friends on such chat apps, please be aware that people on the Internet are sometimes not actually whom they claim to be. So, you must never personally meet any stranger you know only through such chat apps. Even if you’re certain of the person’s identity, please know predators are extremely good at creating personas and deceiving others.
IMing vs using chat rooms – rather than using personal IM chats, you’d be better off interacting with others in secure chat rooms. However, sometimes even these chat rooms are also not completely safe as they are moderated by strangers. To stay safe, never accept a chat invite from someone unknown, whom you don’t know personally. In addition, never share your chat IM password with anyone including people you call friends.
Last but not the least, talk to your parents, friends and/or family members anytime you get into trouble with such online chats. There should always be someone you can freely discuss such matters with.
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