We’ve seen it countless times; a child wants to join a kids chat room and the parents are nervous but don’t want to prevent their children from making friends and enjoying childhood. We understand the dilemma, and we want to help with some advice today!
Do Your Research
If your child has expressed an interest in joining a chat room, the first thing we recommend doing is watching the room for a few days. You don’t need to create an account yourself but look over the chat room or forum to gauge the topics of conversation. If you find that there are topics you don’t want your child to engage in, you can stop the process in this early stage.
As well as looking in the chat room, do some research online to see what reputation the chat room has. Additionally, talk with other parents to get their opinions. When a child wants to join a chat room, it’s normally because their friends are already on the platform. Therefore, you can talk to other parents about their experiences.
The very best chat rooms for children will have moderators who monitor conversation - we also recommend a platform with no private messaging system (this can open the door to bullying and other problems).
Set Some Ground Rules
If you’re happy with the chat room, the next step is to set some ground rules, and this couldn’t be more important. Example rules include:
-> Knowing the password to your child’s account - this will allow you to stay on top of their activity.
-> Setting time slots where your child is allowed into the chat rooms so that it doesn’t take over their lives.
-> Create the account with your child and make sure you don’t use their real name - we recommend a nickname.
Explain the Security Concerns
Sometimes, it’s the innocence of children that gets them into trouble. Therefore, we recommend explaining about not giving away personal information, blocking/ignoring people, and never posting pictures of themselves. At this stage, it’s important to open clear lines of communication. We understand you want to explain the rules to your child, but don’t make them feel as though they can’t talk to you if something happens.
If there’s an inappropriate message, your child should know to ignore it and talk to you. From here, you can contact the moderator and take the necessary steps to make the chat room safe again. Most chat rooms have procedures in place to prevent situations like this, but your child should be reassured that you won’t be angry if they have to report something to you.
We mentioned open communication, and this also allows you to have fun with your child. Rather than them feeling as though they have to keep everything to themselves, try to get involved and understand what they’re doing. The more you try, the more willing they will be to involve you in the experience.
Unfortunately, we can’t provide an answer to whether a chat room is wrong or right for your child. Instead, you will need to assess the situation and whether they’re ready to make this step. For some parents, they explain the rules to their child and feel as though they aren’t ready for a chat room. With others, they’re confident the child will be fine and understands the importance of the rules. Ultimately, you need to gauge their understanding. If you’re willing to play an active role in the experience, and you’re happy they will use the chat room responsibly, they may just be ready (even if you want them to stay young forever!).