It’s come to our attention that schools across the UK have been warned about a well-known chat room. It’s been reported to us that schools have issued warnings to parents and carers urging them to talk to their children about these chat rooms and chat room apps.
What are anonymous chat rooms?
Anonymous chat rooms are online spaces where people can chat with strangers. People can communicate via instant messaging and video chat, some of these platforms use random matching to pair users.
Young people are likely to use these chat rooms and chat room apps because they seem fun, and the randomisation of people can be exciting. As young people spend much more time online due to the lockdown, there is an increased chance that they will come across these sites. Despite them seeing these as fun, they may not see the risks from those online with malicious intentions.
What are the risks?
Young people may be at risk of seeing distressing or highly sexualised imagery without warning
They may be asked or pressured to remove clothing or reveal personal information
They may be asked to have private conversations on other platforms
They may also be sent malicious links or spam
The video below explains the safeguarding issues we found on a particular platform:
Top Tips for talking to your child about online risks
Engage young people in a conversation about keeping safe online and who they would talk to if someone made them feel uncomfortable online or if they see something online that worries or upsets them.
When talking to a child or young person, it’s best not to mention the app or website by name. If you do, it is likely that the child or young person will check out the platform on their own if they haven’t done so already. Instead, ask them what kind of new sites/apps they are using with their friends.
You can also submit an online report to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) by clicking here.
If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number)
Watch our video below for more advice on having a difficult conversation about sensitive issues with your child.
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