National Academies logo
NetSafeKids logo
The Internet Today
Pornography and Predators: Basic Facts/ Legal Issues
How Pornography and Predators Reach Kids
How Can I Protect My Child
A Resource For Parents home Site Map

Web Sites and Web Pages
Instant Messages
Usenet Newsgoups
Peer-to-Peer Networks
Search Engines
Internet symbol collage


Chat rooms are popular, real-time modes of Internet communication used to initiate, establish, and maintain online relationships. The online equivalent of CB radio—where one person talks and anyone listening in can hear and respond—chat rooms are usually text based, but text can consist of links to Web pages.

You must join a chat room to participate in it. Chat rooms can be public (accessible to anyone) or private (by invitation only). They can be based on interests—movies, sports, hobbies—or simply serve as a venue for meeting people. There are even chat rooms that facilitate online gaming communities, where people assume digital visual representations, called avatars, and interact with each other in cyberspace role-playing games.

Some chat rooms have an employee or volunteer monitor who keeps tabs on language, content, and behavior. Unless you know otherwise, however, it’s best to assume that any given chat room is unmonitored.


  • Because conversations in unmonitored chat rooms are usually not restricted, they can become sexual in nature, covering topics ranging from sexual concerns to actual cybersex activity. These types of discussions can come from strangers seeking to establish relationships with young children or teens. Sexual predators find the chat-room forum to be an easy way to search for a potential victim.
  • Children can also deliberately access off-limits content by requesting sexually explicit images from chat-room participants or by visiting a chat room named so as to attract people interested in sexual conversation.

back to top