Hundreds of thousands of chat rooms have popped up on the Internet. Parents and cyber crime experts are concerned about the vulnerability of kids, to several risks, that unchecked access to Internet can cause.
In the pre-teen and teen years, kids develop a sense of individuality. Physical changes in the body are accompanied by emotional and social changes as well. Curiosity is at its peak and everything seems magical. Certainly, kids rarely give a second thought while trying new things, such as puffing a cigar or gulping a bottle of beer.
Teen years being the formative years in one's life, kids search for appreciation, love, care, and attention. They want to be with people who can understand them deeply. With the sprouting of free online chat rooms for kids, connecting with friends and peer groups is exciting, fun, and enjoyable.
However, in an endeavor to make friends and expand social circle, chatting becomes an addiction for several kids. This makes them accessible to a huge network of unidentified and often fake profiles of so-called 'friends', who allure kids into wrong activities.
Ensure that your kid is involved in a lot of activities that include studies, swimming, karate, drawing, writing, painting, sports, gymnastics, etc. This will give him/her stipulated time to spend in talking online. This will also make him/her understand that chatting is nothing more than just a way of social interaction.
It is in no way a substitute for face-to-face communication. Get your kids into the habit of communicating clearly. This will help them become more practical and clear in their views. Once kids understand that social networking is just a tool to communicate, they will automatically move away from their computers and indulge in other productive activities.
Feel free to communicate openly with your kids. Discuss with them how online chat rooms can be dangerous if the other person is faking or misleading by not revealing true identity. Don't hide any facts from kids. If you don't tell them about the harmful effects of chatting addiction, they will someday end up doing things you were once hesitant to discuss.
Convey Realistic Expectations
Teens are usually rebellious and focus too much on their personal lives (which is quite normal). This often leads to the formation of immature ideas about love and life. Hence, they tend to experience an emotional upheaval. In such a case, be very straightforward about your expectations (they must be realistic).
At the same time, do not curb their freedom completely. This will instill in them a sense of acceptance and also a feeling of being loved. Also, don't let them get into too much chatting, as it can lead to venting out of unexpressed emotions to fake people.
When kids get emotionally attached to a person, they become prone to getting caught in a vicious cycle of expecting too much from someone whom they haven't seen or met.
Zero in on Safe Chat Rooms
While you can't and shouldn't block chatting or social networking websites for kids (this sends a negative message), help them by getting access to chat booths meant exclusively for kids. Registered booths follow all safety guidelines and are productive, as they offer both entertainment and knowledge. Guide them in identifying good virtual chat booths.
Make them understand that more than increasing the 'friends count' on social networking sites, they must believe in making friends who truly care about them.
Once you have logged in a free chat room, various windows pop up alluring kids to visit those websites. Hence, finding good ones for your teens is not a difficult task for parents if you get in touch with cyber security officials.
Talk, Explain, Present Facts, Make Kids Aware
Keeping an eye on the Internet log book helps you monitor the websites your child is visiting. If you find your kid visiting sites that have some sexual content (meant for above 18 years of age), then make sure you install a security software in your PC. This will lead to blockage of such websites. However, this can't be a permanent solution for the problem.
Therefore, talking to your kids on these issues becomes mandatory. This is because an inclination towards the opposite sex and curiosity about the human body is a natural feeling at this age. Therefore, remember to not taunt or talk harshly.
Make them aware about facts and talk openly. This will create greater awareness about choosing friends online and visiting websites that are particularly not meant for their age group.
The Later the Better
Don't give personal computers to your kids up to a certain age. Let them use a common computer so that you have a general idea about what your kid is up to. Understand that more than your kid visiting anything not apt for his/her age, more dangerous threats are that your kid may get close to fake people.
A 50 year old man can fake to be 20 year old girl on Internet. Nobody knows the real identity of people on Internet. Hence, be more vigilant about that. Influence of chat rooms on teenagers has been more negative than positive. Instances of kids running away from home to meet their online friends, in some other state, has often been reported in police cases.
Encourage kids to keep chats saved in the computers. This way, you can be sure that they're not treading into an unsafe zone. Monitor your kids positively. Don't impose too many restrictions, but at the same time don't be lenient.
As parents, you've got to ensure that kids inculcate positive values in life that are good for their personal growth. Teens and adolescents should be taught to share information, and stay in touch with distant relatives and friends. Parents should ensure that their kids are emotionally involved in the family.
Generally, when kids are not given enough attention in their own families, they are emotionally drawn away and start inclining towards external sources for happiness and peace. Parenting teenagers is definitely challenging; however, if parents provide a conducive environment for kids, they will eventually grow up to be responsible citizens of the country.