Dangers of chatting online

Many Singaporean teenagers today have found a common hobby-chatting online. This has come about with the growing numbers of readily downloadable and user-friendly programs online such as the Internet Relay Chat (IRC), I Seek You (ICQ) and Microsoft messenger (MSN messenger). Users are free to discuss any topic with anyone in the chat rooms. Most teenagers find the relative anonymity and convenience of chatting online fun and interesting but many do not realize or disregard the dangers online chatting pose. In this article, I shall examine the dangers of chatting online and how readers can avoid them. While Chatting Online, teenagers tend to confide their lives’ problems, their thoughts and feelings to chatting partners moments after starting their conversation. In doing so, they often perceive a close relationship with their chatting partners. That is, good friends whom they can always confide in or even as a boyfriend/girlfriend. There is also a high propensity for teenagers to give out personal information like their mobile phone number and where they live, to chatting partners. The problem with online chat is people usually only “see” a sugar-coated version of their chatting partner. Consciously or subconsciously, most of the time people present the parts of them they want their chatting partner to “see” and like and play down the parts that are less likeable. (“Going from On Line to Real Life”, 2002) There can only be a limited chemistry between you and your chatting partner while chatting online. Assessing information about another person without physical, nonverbal cues like body language frequently turns out to be inaccurate. Dr. Reece Burka, a New Orleans psychologist says, “A false sense of intimacy is created when interaction remains purely cognitive.” (“The pros and cons of Web matchmaking” (2002), ????25) Thus, what a chatting partner “seems” like online may not be what he/she i…

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