The Pros And Cons Of Online Chat Rooms
By Toni Hoy
Updated November 11, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
Not being able to talk to someone when you need to let out your feelings can be extremely difficult. You might want to speak to someone, but it feels like your friends and family don't understand what you are going through or don't have enough time to talk. On the other hand, you might recognize the value that your friends and family bring, but don't want to be a burden. Perhaps, you have something personal that you want to share and don't feel like you can do so with people that you're close to. Whether your situation fits into these categories or you have another reason, turning to online chat rooms can be appealing in these situations.
Most chat rooms offer anonymity, which can give us the confidence to talk about things that we wouldn't normally talk about to people that we know in 'real life.' Sometimes, it's just easier to open up to people that we meet online, but should we? Let's take a look at the pros and cons so you can decide whether chatting with people online is a good fit for you.
Here Are Some of the Pros and Cons of Online Chat Rooms:
- A chance to meet new people with different views from around the world
- Easy to find people based on your age, gender, interests, and goals (whether you're looking for social support or dating, for example)
- Free and easy to use
- Unbiased opinions
When you speak to someone in a chat room, while you may have things in common, you don't know each other intimately like you do your friends and family. While on the surface this might seem like a drawback, it's also true that you might be able to get a true assessment from a stranger that you can't get from someone who knows you well. Those who love you may be biased because of their attachment to you and therefore, might not be able to see the whole situation objectively even if they have the best of intentions.
If you are someone who struggles with sharing your emotions, you might feel more comfortable using written communication as opposed to verbally telling people what's on your mind. Being anonymous might also be a perk of chatting online. There are some safety and comfort that comes with not having to share what's going on face to face. This can be especially true if you struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem.
There's a lot of solidarity to be found when talking to people who are going through similar situations. While your family and friends might be able to be there to comfort you, they might not be able to understand what you're going through. Many online forums allow you to connect to people with a similar background or if you are looking for a different perspective, you also have the option of talking to people who may be able to introduce you to new ways of thinking.
Unless you're speaking to someone who is toxic, if you don't have anyone in your life to talk to, it's better to have an outlet online than not have anyone at all. We know that keeping our emotions inside can be toxic and damaging so even if you do not have a one on one chat with someone, sharing on a message board and receiving feedback from individuals who feel like they can make all the difference.
- You can't be sure other people are being honest or that they are who they say they are
- If you are feeling vulnerable, people online might try to take advantage of you
- Building relationships online can make you more isolated towards friends and family that you know in person
While most people on these online forums are there to help, we can't know everyone's motivation. For example, we are aware of the online bullying that goes on in addition to the issues that arise when people find out that they're not talking to who they thought they were. Remember not to give too much-identifying information. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, that's a good sign that you might want to consider severing the relationship.
Don't think of internet chats as a permanent solution. It's okay to reach out online if you need help, but you should also work on figuring out why it is difficult for you to be vulnerable or reach out to your in-person friends. Through this process, you might learn that the people in your life aren't as supportive as you need them to be. If you spend all of your time talking to people online, you will forget to foster in-person relationships. It's really important that we interact with people face to face at times as socialization is a fundamental need.
The Bottom Line
Many people have met friends and loved ones online and have built lasting relationships with them. Unfortunately, there have been many cases where a person is not who seems to be. Some are online predators who make friends with people online just to get money from them.
If you believe that online chat rooms are one of the only places that you feel safe opening up about your feelings, then, don't stop using them. Just be careful. A little bit of internet literacy can go a long way in protecting yourself by making sure that your online interactions and relationships are healthy and genuine.
Suffering from mental health problems and looking for support from like-minded people online? HealthfulChat is one option with chat rooms for people suffering from depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more that has useful guidelines and rules for users' behavior.
Safe Alternatives to Free Online Chat Rooms
Online chat rooms can be a great free resource for people who are lonely, going through a difficult time in their lives and struggling with their feelings. Even though social support is a key part of getting through hard times, if you are suffering from a mental health issue like anxiety or depression, additional help may be needed to get you feeling normal again. It's often a good idea to speak to a professional who is well versed in helping people deal with issues similar to yours.
If you prefer reaching out to people online, BetterHelp is a safe and affordable alternative to chat rooms and in-person therapy that matches users with a licensed counselor. BetterHelp is great because it allows you to message your counselor anytime via a computer or mobile device. You can even set up video or phone appointments if you feel comfortable doing so.
Free online chat rooms are around to stay, and they do have their benefits. The key to using chat rooms safely is to be internet-literate and capable of recognizing potentially dangerous situations online. You also want to be mindful that it's easy to stick in this online world and cut ourselves off from the 'real world.'
If you are suffering from mental health issues and haven't found the help you need, you should consider reaching out to a therapist. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that helps you find a counselor that specializes in whatever struggles you are going through. Your therapist will work with you to find the root of your struggles so you can live a healthy, fulfilling life on your terms.