Online Chat and Instant Messaging

Online chat and instant messaging have become essential forms of communication, with billions of messages being exchanged around the world every day.

It may be a convenient way to get your message out, make plans or have a conversation, but it does come with some risks.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Keep your personal information to yourself when you're chatting online. Never give out your address, phone number, email address or send pictures of yourself.
  • You may want to consider using a nickname instead of your real name to protect your identity.
  • Always be careful about who you meet online. You never know if the person on the other end is who they say they are.
  • If you decide to meet with someone in person, meet during the day and tell a family member or friend where you'll be (or take someone with you).
  • Remember, even if you become quite friendly with someone, they're still a stranger – so treat them as such.
  • Make sure your profile doesn't include personal information that can be easily accessed and end up in the wrong hands.
  • Never stay in a chat that makes you feel uncomfortable. All it takes is one click to get out of it.
  • Keep a copy of any conversation that makes you feel uneasy in case you need to report it.

Be aware of your chat or IM web cam settings.

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