The Dangers Of Text Chat With Strangers
By: Darby Faubion
Updated May 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Carnell Colebrook-Claude , MA, NCC, BC-TMH, LPC (Clinical Track), LPCC, LCPC, LIMHP, LSOTP
The desire to communicate with others is normal, as is the desire to have healthy relationships. However, the pressure to develop friendships or intimate relationships may cloud otherwise sound judgment. If you're relying on technology and social media to meet new people, you may end up in dangerous situations because there is really no way to be sure who you're talking to.
In this article, we'll talk about text chat and why it may be dangerous. Text chat refers to any kind of communication over the internet that offers real-time transmission of text messages from a sender to a receiver. For example, chat rooms and online messaging groups have become popular ways for people to connect online.
While text chat can be a great way to meet new people with similar interests and expand your network, it's always important to be cautious. The dangers of talking with a stranger online are more prominent than many realize as predators often use the internet to lure potential victims.
Why Text Chat with Strangers?
There could be any number of reasons why an individual might want to chat with a stranger. While some people simply like the ease of communicating via text, others like the anonymity. It's particularly easy to get caught up in the world of electronic communication if you have issues with self-esteem or anxiety. In those cases, this type of anonymous communication allows a person to interact with someone else without having to feel the social anxiety or awkwardness that often accompanies in-person communication.
For some people, it also seems easier to talk about personal feelings with strangers. Similarly, the fear of rejection often weighs heavily on people who are very shy or prefer to spend time alone. Talking with online friends creates a sense of having a "relationship" without having to commit to constant communication if they don't want it.
What About the Dangers?
If you don't know for sure who you're talking to, you could end up giving your information to someone who will use it against you. Online predators are usually very good at getting information from their targets. In fact, statistics show that 75 percent of teens are willing to share personal information about themselves or their family in exchange for goods and services online. Additionally, in 100 percent of the cases that involved online sexual predators luring teens, the teens have gone willingly to meet the offender.
These predators know what they're doing. Individuals who are skilled at using the internet to lure a victim may change their email or social media accounts frequently. While it's not uncommon for some people to change these accounts from time to time, online predators usually do so to keep from being identified after they commit a crime.
Things to Consider Before Using Text Chat with Strangers
A Stranger is a Stranger
No matter how sincere the person on the other end of the text chat may seem, there's no way to know if he or she is being honest. Sharing personal information with a stranger can make you vulnerable.
Victims Don't Anticipate Being Victimized
No one wakes up in the morning thinking, "It's a great day to be victimized." However, certain behaviors can increase the risk that someone will take advantage of you. As innocent as your intentions may be, you should always be safe when using text chat to communicate with strangers.
It's true that most online friends don't need to be feared, but you should always follow safety measures. For instance, if you communicate with strangers, it's best to not share personal information. Refrain from giving out your last name, your location, or phone number, and whatever you do, do not exchange money with a stranger. Even if the person is committing a scam, it will be difficult to recoup your cash if you willingly give them money.
Chat rooms are common places to meet "friends" online, and inexperienced chat room visitors are usually drawn in by the name of the room. For example, some rooms are named to attract Christian socializers, and others may be named for sports fanatics. Most people are probably legitimately interested in the topic, but there's no way to be 100 percent sure. Even in rooms that claim to host a particular audience, it's always best to err on the side of caution.
What Are You Personally Looking For?
Before engaging in text chat with a stranger, think about why you're considering this type of communication. Be honest with yourself about your reasons for choosing text chat. If you're seeking companionship, a safer alternative may be attending local meetups or community events. This would give you an opportunity to meet people in person in a public place with others around. After all, you can learn a lot about a person by watching the way he or she interacts with others.
For some people, social anxiety or low self-esteem might make them more inclined to meet people online. If this applies to you, you may want to get to the root of your anxiety and/or self-esteem issues. Left unaddressed, these issues are likely to get worse, not better.
If you still prefer online communication, there are safer options, including online counseling and support groups that have been vetted by legitimate organizations. These services give you an opportunity to communicate with others who are supportive and nonjudgmental in a safe environment.
In fact, online counseling is becoming more and more popular. If you choose online counseling, you can connect with a therapist or a doctor from the comfort of your own home. As an online counseling platform, BetterHelp is dedicated to making professional counseling accessible, affordable, and convenient to anyone who is struggling with life's challenges. If you're curious about online counseling, you'll find a few reviews of our counselors below.
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The internet can offer a world of education and resources, but you should always be careful when you're online. Before engaging in text chat with strangers, think about why you want to engage in text chat and learn about ways you can protect yourself from online predators. You may also want to seek safe alternatives for meeting new people or talk to a counselor who can help with issues like self-esteem and social anxiety. If you're looking for a safe place where you can talk to an experienced counselor online, take the first step here.