Forums and chat rooms
What are they?
Online forums are webpages where users can post information or comment on the posts of others. Most often they are associated with a specific topic or community, but can be open to general chat (chat rooms).
How do they work?
Usually one person (often a site moderator) will start a conversation thread and invite users to add their thoughts. A forum operator has many options for how the forum will operate, such as whether posts can be left anonymously, and whether comments are screened and moderated before appearing on the site. Some forums and chat rooms are completely un-moderated.
Why are forums useful?
They provide a destination where people from all over the world can come together to discuss topics of interest.
What do you need to keep in mind about your children and forums and chat rooms?
It is important that you understand the rules by which a forum operates before allowing your child to participate. Many forums are not moderated, or are moderated only after users complain, meaning that children can be exposed to offensive content or become the subject of abusive posts (also called getting 'flamed'). Most forums have few restrictions on who can join, meaning that any information posted by your child can be read by an unknown number of strangers.