The Dangers Of Chat Rooms And How To Stay Safe Online

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated April 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

With internet and social media constantly on the rise, the dangers of direct messaging and using chats features on these websites and apps tend to increase as well. In the fairly recent past, online safety was mainly preached to children and teenagers. Now, with the increased use of social media overall, adults are at risk to the danger of the internet as well. 

Feeling the effects of an online scam?

The dangers of chat rooms

For as long as the internet has been widely available, predators and scam artists have set up shop in online chatrooms and on social media platforms. Despite the many efforts of sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, illegal or dangerous activity still manages to slip through the cracks.

Below are some of the most common dangers online and how to avoid them. 

Hacking and impersonation

When it comes to the internet, you may not even be able to trust your family and friends. An increasingly common method of online scamming comes in the form of hackers taking over the social media profiles of people you know and contacting you via message. 

These hackers will attempt to impersonate your friends, family or colleagues, typically in an attempt to get personal details or money from you. In addition to friends and family, some scammers may attempt to impersonate celebrities or public figures to do the same. 

How To Stay Safe: If you receive a message from someone you know, or a “celebrity” that seems off, trust your gut. Do not give personal details or money to anyone online unless you can be certain they are who they say they are. Additionally, most social media platforms will include a way to identify the real profiles of celebrities or public figures such as a checkmark logo next to their screen name, or otherwise. 

Fake check scams

Fake check scams are common when buying, selling, or offering services online. Typically, these scams will consist of someone showing interest in an item you have put up for sale or a service you are offering online. The scammer will offer to mail or email a check for significantly more money than the price of the object or service. They will then ask that you deposit the check, and send them a portion of the money back. 

Oftentimes, these scammers will entice users with the offer to keep an additional portion of the check, essentially seeming to offer more than the asking price. Unfortunately, these checks are fake and intended not to clear, thus tricking the victim into send money taken directly from their own account. 

How To Stay Safe: When making any kind of transaction online, use a trusted method of payment. For more information on how to spot, avoid and report fake check scams, visit the Federal Trade Commision website. 


Similar to impersonation, catfishing consists of a person pretending to be someone they are not online. Where these scams tend to different is in the nature of the scammers intent. Where someone hacking an account typically aims to get money or personal details, someone catfishing will likely aim to pursue a romantic relationship or friendship under the guise of being someone else, or looking entirely different in real life. 

While some catfish will attempt to use the relationship for financial gain, oftentimes the harm they cause is purely psychological. 

How To Stay Safe: When you start talking to someone new online, ask them to schedule a video chat with you. If the person makes frequent excuses for why they are not able to video chat, or keeps their face or features concealed during video chats, they are most likely catfishing. 


Cyberbullying and trolling

Unfortunately, one of the most common dangers of the internet and chat rooms is also one of the most difficult to avoid. The ability to comment publicly on almost any form of media opens many of us up to cyberbullying and trolling. 

Cyberbullying and trolling tend to occur when a large number of people come across a photo, video, comment, or any sort of post that could be considered controversial or simply draws a lot of attention. This form of targeted harassment is intended to intimidate, humiliate, or outright threaten the victim, and often comes from a place of insecurity or a need for control on the part of the attacker.

How To Stay Safe: Try to limit the amount of personal detail that is available about you online, such as your address and phone number. Avoid making public comments or posts that you would rather not receive feedback on. If you have fallen victim to cyberbullies or trolls, oftentimes it can be best to log off entirely.

Benefits of online therapy

Though the presence of the internet has made connection to telehealth and medicine much more reachable, the consequences of being fooled, scammed or attacked online can often have serious effects on mental health and well-being. 

It is possible that online therapy can be beneficial and potentially serve as a highly constructive use of your time on the internet. 

Effectiveness of online therapy

According to research, the increase of opportunity to strong digital mental health intervention has been shown to have significant and meaningful positive effects on the well-being of those who participate. 

Additionally, online therapy is proven to be equally as effective as in-person therapy when it comes to the reduction of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Feeling the effects of an online scam?


Despite its many positives, the internet can often serve as breeding ground for scam artists and trolls. In the age of information, it is more important than ever to keep your personal details safeguarded online. It is helpful to remain cautious when speaking with anyone, including friends and family, when you are using the internet.
Receive professional support online
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started