The major problem is chat, and as far back as February I argued that the prevalence of predatory adult males in online chat rooms had been demonstrated so clearly that it was time to exclude kids from chat rooms where adults might be present.
The experiences of Shevaun and other children like her have only confirmed my view that kids do not need to use chat rooms to talk to strangers.
- Kids should participate in these chat rooms under the supervision of their parents - Do not flood the chat room or disrupt other users in any way. - Although we do staff moderators in this kids chat room, they cannot be on every minute of the day.
- Do not give out any personal information to anyone, no matter how much you think you can trust them.
Monitoring every e-mail, sitting in on every chat and checking web access logs is not the way, certainly for the over-10s.
While there are significant benefits to being online and to using the resources available on the net, the balance between these benefits and the dangers needs to be better understood, and a new understanding is required.
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.
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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.
Especially EMO room, I've met loads of cool people, its the best chat room ever by far!!
- No posting of personal identifable information is allowed.