Things to Consider Before Talking to Strangers Online
This year, the world will produce more information that it has in all the prior years combined. That is the power of technology. Communication tools and technologies have been evolving at such a rapid pace that sometimes, it is so difficult to keep track of it all. Across the world, people receive and share information across a variety of platforms. Chat rooms, social media and texting have become increasingly popular, particularly among youth who are usually the first to adopt new technologies. While these technologies are extremely useful tools for communication, and certainly make our lives easier, online safety has to be of utmost importance. As you connect with strangers online, and seek to make friends and extend your networks, here are ten things that you should consider.
1. Do not save your login information
When you log into many online chat sites, you may be asked if you want to save your login information, so you can be automatically logged in the next time you visit. Do not save the information. You do not want to be away from the computer, and someone else logs in as you. Just try as best as possible to remember your username and password.
2. Use unique passwords
Yes, we know that you have to remember your own password, but do not make it too simple for others to guess. Many people simply set their password as password. Try to make your password as unique as possible. Also, you should change your password regularly, while ensuring that you remember it.
3. Be aware of your surroundings
Particularly if you are using a public computer, you need to be aware of what is happening around you while you chat. There may be people snooping around, trying to get an idea of some of the information that you are sharing. These people may watch as you enter your passwords for example, so be careful.
4. Click the log out button when you are finished.
Do not just close the browser window either. Many of these sites will keep you logged in. If someone else uses your computer, they will have access to all your conversations, and can even continue these conversations while pretending to be you. Make sure you log out of the website when you are finished chatting.
5. DO NOT GIVE OUT SENSITIVE INFORMATION
We had to place this tip in caps. It cannot be emphasised enough, how much you should not share sensitive information with strangers online. The fact is, you do not know the type of person you are speaking with, no matter how nice they seem. Do not give out personal information such as your home address, telephone number and credit card information. There are many reports of people who have been robbed, or even killed as a result. Do not become a victim. Simply put… do not overshare information.
6. Not everyone is who they seem to be
Following on the previous tip, it is important to remember that people are not always who they seem to be. Nowhere is this more so than in the online space. Always be careful. It is good to make friends, but there are many people who pretend to be someone else while online.
7. Have a good antivirus installed on your computer
A good, updated antivirus will protect you against spam, trojans and viruses that may be shared while using online chat platforms. Some of these websites will ask you to sign up for many things, and will place viruses on your computer. A good antivirus will detect these, and protect your computer.
8. Be aware of deceptive offers
Some people will offer you things online that are too good to be true. Usually, if it is too good to be true…it really isn’t true. Do not fall for people who will trick you by saying that they are promising love, vacations, money and so much more. There are many people online who will seek to scam you. If you become a victim of a scam, make sure that you report it.
9. Know the website
Take the time to get all the information you need to know about the website, before you become a regular user. Check with other people, or even do online searches to find out the best random chat sites. Some websites are more secure than others. It will be useful to find out about the security features that the site offers, and learn how to use them. This way you can protect yourself.
10. BE SMART
Finally, all the tips presented before can be summarised in this one — be smart. Simply, be yourself, make friends, but be careful while doing so. Do not divulge too much information. Do not agree to meet people you do not know. If for example, you will want to meet a person, make sure that someone else knows where you are going, and even accompanies you. Always meet in a safe and public place. Be smart! It is better to be safe than sorry.