The Dangers Of Private Chat Rooms Online
Updated December 29, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Carnell Colebrook-Claude , MA, NCC, BC-TMH, LPC (Clinical Track), LPCC, LCPC, LIMHP, LSOTP
Private chat rooms online can seem like a great idea. They're a way for you to communicate, meet new people, or maintain current relationships with others from all over the world. This was never possible in the past. It wasn’t so long ago when this type of technology did not exist. A private chat room is also an easy alternative to use if you're feeling lonely or struggling with mental illness. You might find comfort in these digital spaces talking to random people about your problems because they don't know about your past. Finding individuals online who are interested in your challenges or who struggle with the same issue as yourself can provide a sense of relief and normalcy. It is a lot easier to be open when you aren't facing the person and will probably never meet them in real life.
While these advancements in technology are great, there are several dangers involved with using private online chat rooms, especially for people who are vulnerable or not tech-savvy.
The Dangers of Private Chat Rooms Online
The internet has a lot of great things to offer us, but of course, there's always someone looking to spoil the party. Trolls are people who like to create drama online by sharing offensive things, starting arguments, and generally being mean without reason. Trolls are often thrill-seeking individuals who lack impulse control and want to cause psychological trauma in others.
Psychological studies have shown that internet "trolls" tend to be males who often show a high level of psychopathy traits. These traits can include: lack of empathy, lack of remorse for their actions, low levels of guilt, callousness, and elevated levels of sadistic behaviors. They enjoy and take pleasure in causing others physical and psychological distress. In fact, researchers at Federation University Australia surveyed 415 men and women over the age of 18 years old who regularly utilized social media. They examined a wide range of personality traits including social skills, psychopathy, sadism, and two types of empathy (affective and cognitive) to find out what characteristics tended to be present in non-trolls. The researchers also looked at traits that might make participants vulnerable to trolling activities or reveal a predisposition to "troll" (Weber, 2017). What they learned was that trolls scored above average in two areas: psychopathy and cognitive empathy. Even though "trolls" did display a form of empathy, pairing it with psychopathy, a developmental disorder marked by emotional deficits, makes them uncaring and nasty, the researchers advised (Weber, 2017).
So, what does all this means? Simply, the individuals in the study with the "troll" characteristics may have the ability to recognize when someone is upset or angry. Due to their cognitive empathy, "trolls" may be completely aware of what emotional buttons to push when posting on your page. An internet troll might not be able to internalize or care about your emotional reaction and the hurt they cause because they may be incapable of feeling genuine remorse. Therefore, if you're feeling insecure about yourself or struggling emotionally, the last thing you need to do is get caught up with a troll. They don't care about your emotional state. If you don't realize that they aren't worth the trouble, they can end up making you feel worse. Certainly, if you are struggling with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence, it is important to know that trolls will continue to make your life miserable. There are many safer alternatives to help you deal with your internal struggles.
2. Online Predators
As bad as trolls are, they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are worse people than internet trolls online. Predators can befriend you with the intention of scamming you for money, or worse. This might sound extreme, but it's important to know that not everyone in private online chat rooms has good intentions. Many individuals considered to be online predators use these chat rooms to locate, manipulate, and "groom" potential targets. They seek to steadily groom their target online by giving them attention, affection, compassion, and kindness that is lacking in the target's life. They may then leverage your emotional dependence on them to achieve their own end goal.
What exactly causes someone to be identified as an online predator? Some experts suggest that an online predator is a person who takes part in the psychological and/or physical predation of another individual. Online predators are motivated by acceptance, ego, power, control, revenge, mental instability, money, addiction, fetishes, deviant sexual fantasies, and poor self-esteem, among other drivers. They will use digital technology, e.g. a private chat room, to target and prey upon individuals. They are extremely good at controlling others and will create a trusting and relaxed environment online just so they can take advantage of their target. They are skillful and ruthless individuals who will use cognitive lies to justify their acts. Many will continue to commit their crimes repeatedly to satisfy their wants, needs, and distorted desires.
- Impermanence of Online Relationships
In society today it is very common when feeling bored or lonely to visit chat rooms. They offer a place online where you get to possibly meet interesting individuals who are in search of a decent conversation with a likeminded chat partner. These arbitrary online relationships can turn into more than just a friendship. You can end up building a strong connection with someone that they have never met before. Then, one day it happens—poof, they've disappeared, and you have no way of contacting them ever again.
This term is often referred to as "ghosting." Ghosting has become a cultural phenomenon and many individuals do not understand why this happens to them. The authors of 2018 study state that ghosting is distinct from other methods of ending relationships because it occurs without the other individual knowing that it has even happened. When one person ghosts the other, the abrupt effect is simply a confusing lack of communication. Unfortunately, the existing forms of technology has made ghosting a notorious relationship-ending scheme. Persons who ghost are mainly fixated on sidestepping their own emotional pain and do not consider how it negatively affects the other individual. Even though this is selfish, it is still a common practice. You should always be mindful of the fact that, just how a person can one day randomly enter your life online, they can also drop out the same way. In their wake, they can leave behind a big mess of hurt, pain, rejection, and unanswered questions that you will have to deal with on your own.
A Safer Alternative
You can see that, even though private online chat rooms can be fun and exciting when you want someone to talk to, they also come with their fair share of risks. If you want to connect with someone online, there are safer ways to go about it. One example is online counseling.
Online counseling is one option that has recently been gaining popularity. Affordable and convenient services like BetterHelp can connect you with an experienced counselor. Your therapist won't disappear on you. Instead, they will provide you with a safe space where you can communicate your thoughts and feelings. They will never judge you based on your emotions and what you are going through. Every individual wants to feel appreciated and understood at a time when they are struggling with life issues. Having someone who is interested and supportive in what you are experiencing on the other side of the keyboard or telephone can be life-changing.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, online therapy exploded in popularity. However, many experts believe that the growth in remote counseling will hold, even after vaccines are widely available. The reason? Online therapy provides the same results as in-person treatment. What’s more, it can be more accessible for many communities. Experts are increasingly coalescing around a future in which therapy is a mostly remote practice.
If you are experiencing issues in your life and you need a stranger to speak with, you should consider an online therapist. People on chatrooms will likely not have good expertise. They may give you damaging advice. In worst scenarios, they may try to take advantage of you. Online counseling at BetterHelp connects you with an experienced and licensed mental health professional. Read what others have to say about their experiences with BetterHelp therapists below.
“Christina’s been working with me for about 2-3 months now and she is honestly a gem. Really a great listener, doesn’t rush me or judge me, and allows me to be comfortable enough to vent everything I have on my chest. It’s been a pleasure having her as my counselor.”
“Jason has been thoughtful and concise, he doesn’t make me feel pressured and he lets me set my own pace. He’s been understanding of my therapy apprehensions and is willing to meet on my terms. For example I grew up in the Catholic Church, and one of the vices that I developed is that I feel it’s easier to reveal my true self via confession. Jason has always been willing to take phone calls with me other than video chats, and I feel like that allows me to open up a lot more to have that anonymity of the phone.”
If you're struggling with mental health or emotional problems, a counselor can help teach you coping mechanisms that can have long-lasting positive effects on your life. Another benefit that BetterHelp allows is that you will able to participate in therapy wherever you are. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, you will be able to access your counselor. You will be in control and able to choose how (messages, phone, or video), where (home, car, or while taking a walk), and when (morning, afternoon, or night) you want to discuss your personal difficulties.
The anonymity of a private chat room is a way to receive quick acceptance from strangers. This quality can invite participants to discuss their difficulties with any one who is present rather than seek out real-life professional help. The way you behave in a chatroom is up to you. Meeting new people on the internet can be an excellent way to form new relationships with those you never would have met otherwise. But it's important to always be aware and always remain cognizant about the intentions of others and of certain dangers that come with each chat room visit.
Don't let trolls bother you. Be careful about what personal information you share online. Be skeptical of anyone who tells you a sob story to try to get you to send them money. These types of things should put up an immediate red flag. They should cause you to cease all communication between you and that person. Your safety and wellbeing should be your number one priority. So, if you're looking for support through a tough time, know that the online counseling platform BetterHelp is a safe and secure alternative.
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