Study Quantifies Dangers Of Online Chat Rooms (Sort Of)

from the but-not-really dept

Over in the UK, they seem positively obsessed with the dangers of internet chat rooms. We don’t deny that there are dangers, but they seem to be blown way out of proportion. A little bit of education from parents and schools could solve an awful lot of the problems associated with chat rooms (and, in fact, that probably does solve many of the risks already for most families). Still, it seems you can’t go a day without finding a sensationalistic story about the chatrooms, and now they’re pushing a new study that claims to clearly demonstrate the dangers of chatrooms – but it all depends on your interpretation. They claim 7% of kids claim they’ve met in person with someone they first met online without telling their parents. First off, that’s 7%. That means 93% haven’t, which seems like a pretty good number. The article doesn’t give many more details that will let you know much about those numbers either. What age is covered by “young people?” While it might be a bit scary if your 8-year-old is running off to the park to meet someone he or she doesn’t know, there are plenty of teenagers savvy enough to be careful about what they’re getting involved with. The other statistic is just as bad: 11% “felt uncomfortable” during an online chat. Again, they don’t define the age range and they don’t delve into exactly what made them uncomfortable. “Felt uncomfortable” is quite broad. I’m sure if I went into chat rooms with strangers I’d feel uncomfortable at times as well, but it wouldn’t mean I’m in “danger.”

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Study Quantifies Dangers Of Online Chat Rooms (Sort Of)”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
dorpus says:

What about the dangers of home pages?

This probably deserves a new article in its own right. I have word from a reputable source (NHK, the BBC-like news agency of Japan) that the 6th grader who was killed by a box cutter was done in because of an argument over what the victim had written on the attacker’s home page.

Russell (user link) says:

Chat Rooms

While it’s right to say that these things can be blown out of proportion, that doesn’t mean to say that the danger’s aren’t real.

But I agree that it’s all about effective communction betwen parents and kids. The issue is that parents frequently don’t understand the issues!

I recently gave a talk to a group of parents at my kids’ school about the basic “do’s and don’ts” for kids using the web, email, IM and chat. VERY basic stuff.

The scary thing was that when I took a “show of hands” at the beginning, about 50% had never used the Web and most had never used chat rooms or IM.

So how can they have effective communication if they don’t know what they’re talking about?

The other problem is that parents aren’t involved in helping the kids establish socialising behaviour online. Nowhere is this more apparent than Instant Messaging and Chat, but it applies to SMS, email and pretty much everything else.

Taking IM as an example, this is leading to huge problems with kids. Since most communication is non-verbal and since the keyboard removes inhibitions, many a child has got themselves into hot water with their peers over an IM conversation. Giving away too much too soon is a common mistake, to be regretted at leisure. As is passing on dodgy gossip or a quickly regretted bitchy remark.

And it’s because there?s no older generation to explain the rules ? they don?t know as they have no experience. So a world (and IM is a world) where kids make the rules is going to be a pretty brutal one.

Remember Lord of the Flies?

Caveat: big differentce between paedophiles grooming kids and chat rooms and some hurt feelings. But it is still an issue.


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...