Is It Healthy To Chat With Random People Online?
By Marie Miguel
Updated January 24, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
People have been chatting online since the '90s. New chat apps and chat rooms are starting up more and more. Despite the massive appeal of chat, one has to wonder if it's really healthy to get involved in an anonymous chat with random people. Here are a few questions to consider before you connect.
Who's on Chat?
Slack, a fairly new team chat app, had 250,000 users in 2015. By 2017, it has more than 4 million active users every day. Many other chat apps are designed for socializing rather than conducting work communications. Tagschat, a new social chat app, allows people to connect anonymously with people who share their interests. People with nearly every interest and nearly every kind of work and life circumstances are chatting online.
Is It Safe?
The main danger of chatting online is that someone will want to find you in the real world without your permission. It's safer by far to choose anonymous chat rooms and chat apps rather than trying to chat with strangers on social media sites like Facebook, where your real name is listed. If you want to stay safe, don't chat about personal information. Never share financial information or agree to send someone money of any kind.
Are People Honest on Chat?
There is some evidence that people frequently make things up when chatting. Men tend to lie most often about their social and financial position. Women tend to lie the most to stay safe. If you chat online, always remember that the information you get may be complete fiction. If you hold onto that reality, you can enjoy casual exchanges.
Can You Receive Emotional Support?
Chatting with someone who is in similar circumstances to yours offers a way to get support for your specific challenges. A cancer chat room or a pregnancy chat room can be beneficial because it gives you a chance to share information about the condition, related treatments, and the emotional challenges it presents. According to information from the Chat Room Survey, people who chatted online often were more likely to give and receive emotional support.
Can You Have Healthy Relationships When You Chat with Random People Online?
While research about the benefits and risks of chat is in its infant stages, some studies have been done to find out if online chat is healthy. Some evidence suggests that relationships formed in online chat rooms tend to be healthy and also improve social skills for people to build better face-to-face relationships. Proper safety precautions are an important part of healthy online chatting.
Online relationships can have many of the same benefits and problems as relationships off-line. If you are concerned about a relationship or your online behaviors, you can speak to a licensed counselor via Betterhelp.com. There are also BetterHelp chat rooms available, to get support with your specific problems and conditions.
The Internet has made it possible for people of every age and nationality to communicate with friends, family, and strangers across the globe. It seems like every day there is a new tool or app designed for consumers to purchase and use. Some are dating sites, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Omegle, and so many others that it is hard to keep pace. Teens are especially intrigued when something new is advertised, and a new fad is born. Parents need to keep informed as to the tools their children are using. When using one of these tools, it is necessary to make up a profile and sign in. Your real name should never be disclosed, and certainly not your surname. Not everyone is honest, and their profile may not describe who they are or where they are, and you have no way of checking for accuracy. Dating sites are notorious for fake profiles. Stories abound about people being duped: widows, widowers, lonely and rich, lonely and poor. Anyone who goes online looking for a mate needs to be very careful not to be taken in by a predator or a thief. Many lives have been lost and many fortunes stolen by unscrupulous men and women. Many identities have been stolen. The perpetrators are rarely caught even though police departments throughout the world have set up task forces to monitor predators and thieves.
Parents need to instruct their children and heed their advice about what information to post online and what information to "share." For example, where you live, what school you attend, where you work, what vehicle you drive, your date of birth, your last name, your confidential numbers (SIN, Drivers License, credit card or bank account numbers) should never be put online, even if someone you trust asks for it. Never send money to anyone you do not personally know. Many gullible people have fallen for false stories entreaties to send money. Never, never do it. Never agree to meet a stranger you've only "met" online. Women and children are especially putting themselves at risk of being abducted or worse. It happens to men as well. You just have to listen to the news to know the dangers of meeting strangers. Because children are naïve and too often willing to believe what they are being told online, they are easy targets for predators. Some children and teens even to agree to meet the online person in their home when the parents are away - a sure recipe for trouble. An organization called "Enough is Enough" did a survey and found one in seven children are sexually solicited by strangers and more than half the children surveyed were asked for pictures. Teenagers often use chatting online to express their sadness and life problems. If they find a sympathetic ear, they begin to believe that the persons with whom they are sharing their private thoughts are their "friends." And this is not always the case. A predator could be posing as the 'friend,' and a false sense of intimacy is created.
Hacking has become almost epidemic. Some hackers do it just to prove they are smarter than anyone else. Change your user passwords often and make sure they do not contain your date of birth, your address, your spouse's name. A combination of numbers, words, and signs are the best. Never share your password. Use the latest version of an anti-virus. If you have more than one email account, make sure your passwords and usernames are different. Make sure you lock your phone, so it can't be opened if you lose it.
Even when you have been very careful, hackers will find a way to butt into conversations. Children have to be reminded not to respond. Parents need to make sure they know what sites their children are visiting and teach them to be "web savvy." Parents can also find sites that require parental permission. However, we must be realistic. Teens are especially secretive and resent parent interference, but the adult in the equation has to be persistent and make rules to be followed.