Virtual chat rooms are places where you can communicate directly with another person or a group of persons through typed messages. Apart from text messaging, nowadays you can also chat through voice and video. Or you can create a virtual avatar and chat with your virtual acquaintances in a 3D environment.
You can chat via a computer or via a mobile phone. Whichever chatting method you use, you are given the remarkable facility of conversing with people from around the world just as if they were right there with you.
You can transcend national and geographical boundaries, and exchange views on anything from shared hobbies, current news, political views, social gossip, and so on.
Chatting is a great way of meeting new and interesting people. However, since most of these new and interesting people usually are identified by their virtual nicknames and otherwise remain (usually) anonymous, it is wise to exercise a certain amount of caution.
Do your socializing through good chat rooms. Don't spill any of your personal details―for instance, your phone/cell phone numbers, addresses, or e-mail addresses. And if you're meeting in real life, make sure it is in a public place.
Visiting chat rooms that provide a service with well-drawn up rules and regulations will probably make your online experience much more pleasant.
Here are a few pointers to help you identify good virtual chat rooms.
- The service should have specific information about how to have a safe online experience, written in a clear and concise manner, so it is understood by everyone, including children.
It may ask you not to divulge any personal information or data. The site may also have links to other sites where more detailed information about online safety is available.
- The service should be very clear about the kind of chat service it offers and the type of audience it is aimed at, so users know what they are getting into. The site may or may not include an age limit for participants.
- The site should clearly state if it is a moderated service or not. Moderated services have a certain degree of comfort about them, because all posts are monitored and if someone is particularly obnoxious they'll just get kicked off.
A moderator is an especially good idea if it is a site frequented by young kids. Yes, someone really has to keep an eye on the brats in the virtual world as well.
- The chat room, if it requires registration, should have a clearly detailed registration process, and it should explain in clear terms why the information is being collected, to what purpose, and to what limits.
- Most chat rooms offer users the facility of creating personal profiles. By reading one another's personal profiles, you can get some additional information about the person you are chatting with.
However, you should have a choice about how much or how little personal information you want to make public. If you want to chat in a totally anonymous fashion, you should be able to do that.
- The service should have prominently placed 'Ignore' and 'Block' buttons, so that if you should encounter any kind of unpleasantness, you can nip it right in the bud. The service may offer advice or links to offer advice on how to handle abusive personalities on the net.
- The site should offer a filtering mechanism, which you can turn on or off as you wish. This gives you a choice as to whether you want or don't want to be exposed to bad language or porn in posts. The filtering mechanism can also protect children by not allowing them to make their email addresses public.
- The service should have an easily accessible 'Report This' button, so the user can report any offensive matter to the moderator. This, of course, can be a bone of contention for free speech lovers, but that's entirely another topic.
These were some of the pointers which will help you in gaining a better understanding of the site you are chatting on, so that there is no scope for any type of treason. If you go by the recent reports, online social media has opened up a new avenue for obnoxious people and it is very important that you stay cautious.