Chat Room Dangers
I was talking with a head teacher of a primary school last night, he was worried about his kids, more specifically; the older girls and their online activities. He is due to go on a chat room awareness course to learn how to best handle the situation, but are things really that serious?
It seems to me that there is a lot of fear in general society and in the media, of adults propositioning children online and grooming them for any manner of things. From my online experiences I have not come across this, possibly not surprisingly as i'm a grown male. So as an experiment, I want to find out for myself just how bad it is. I'm going to create a new online persona; as a 13 year old girl and go and see how bad chat rooms can be. I realize that this is a dodgy area politically, and possibly legally, so i'm going to not initiate any contact and avoid private chat, and just see what kind of people approach me. As a secondary experiment I want to know just how easy it is for grown men to pose as 13 year old girls, I want to know what sort of online checks are made to confirm identity and age.
To start with I want to pick a online name that suggests that I am a 13 year old girl, so i need something more than just a name. There is always a contention problem with online names, so after a bit of digging as to the type of names girls pick, i am going to create the user: LaurenFlower94.
I believe this conveys three things other than the name, firstly it suggests a year of birth; often used in online names to make them unique. It suggests an interest in flowers and thus a certain innocence, and thirdly as a whole I believe this name might be interesting to a pedophile looking for purity or something, so it is a baited hook.
Step 1 - Create an account.
Step 2 - try out some chat rooms
Using a simple search of "teen chat" I discover loads of chat sites, and after some further checking I find that very few offer any child protection through warnings or checkpoints on birth dates and such, and most surprisingly to me; unlike other online topics, there don't appear to be the usual array of sites that recommend other sites, in this case safe chat rooms for kids. This must be a worry for parents. Maybe I didn't enter the right searches, but then it should be something easy to find I would have thought!
My first search result is teenchat.com. I notice it looks cheap and seems to be for an older age range, so i dismiss this one without trying. The second on my list is 321teenchat.com. This site states it is for ages 13-19 and has an attractive front end and looks like some money has been spent on it so i give it a try.
The login is surprisingly free of email checks or age checks, and takes you straight to a chat room without having to give any profile information. This is good because anyone inside doesn't immediately have access to your profile information and you are just a name, but this is also equally bad as chatters can't see who they are chatting with and there's no way of knowing is CuteJules is actually a sixty year old divorcee. Anyway I enter my nickname and login.
A familiar chat room screen is shown and that are a good number of people in here chatting. Immediately as the page loads I am sent a Private Message stating;
"Hey babe wanna cam to cam? Nice thick co.ck full of cum waiting for you!"
Nice! I get another shortly after asking;
"r u hot?"
This is again in a private message format and these people it seems don't want to chat in the main window.
This is interesting as these bozos are working from a name alone and I haven't even set up a profile yet, so lets do that. I've now put in my age, gender, and created an image that is the sort of thing a 13 year old girl might pick.
Now i'm hit with two new private message requests asking A/S/L, from cuteCAMBOY, and taylor/aim/beep. I look at the first profile and find no info for cuteCAMBOY, and the same for the second. they could be anybody of any age, this could be the beginning of a dangerous situation.
This chat room seems to be exclusively; requests for private sessions, and there is little chat gong on in the main window. It is also quite sex oriented and not really the sort of room for a 13 year old girl? Time for another chat site I think.
www.chat-avenue.com/teenchat.html is the next on my list, it presents me with a big blue login screen and nothing else. It would be tempting to just login, but i'll look down the page to see if there is any age guidance. There is an age disclaimer in very small writing and buried in a bunch of other tiny text. It says that 13-14 year olds should use the kids chat room, I will, but first lets have a look in here.
Once again no age check or name validation is asked for; I don't really know what I am expecting, but as a grown man I shouldn't be able to easily pretend to be 13 and female. Anyway, this site has the same interface as the other one, and the experience is familiar, but there are lots more people in this chat room and the posts are slipping by quickly, too quick to read some of them.
Soon i'm being asked A/S/L? again and I think i'm going to have to answer, despite my earlier rule. The poster is "jm" and he has no profile. I rrespond with;
"13 f uk"
He then says he's in the USA and he's 18. I haven't responded for a while and neither has he, I guess little Lauren is not of interest to him, maybe because this is genuine and she's too young, but certainly there is no grooming here.
Now a guy named "FITLAD" is sending me a request;
I respond with;
and I say England. He comes back with;
Other requests are coming in for me now, and "FITLAD" has said nothing further.
After a quick check of the kids room, nothing is happening there so i'm going to move on again, this time to www.teenssite.co.uk.
This is looking cheap again but there is a big 13-19 teen chat link, so i'm going to click that. I' presented with the same interface again and also no age/sex checks, just a nickname entry. Soon I am contacted by "Buff boy", he asks me;
"r u alright"
I say i'm bored, and he replies;
"i'm bored too" and then he asks A/S/L?
"13 f uk"
He comes back with "kl kl", which i don't understand, so i ask and he responds with;
"kool kool", and "np".
Then he asks me if I have MSN. I do but not; as Lauren. So I tell him no, and he simply responds with "ok".
I'm getting bored now, nothing further is coming in from Buff boy. I'm going to try somewhere else, I feel I need something with more profiling and registration. I don't think that these chat rooms are going to reveal anything as quickly as i'd thought, which is good, and the anonymity is beneficial I feel.
One other thing i have noticed is that i'm starting to see the same user names in different chat rooms, not sure what this means yet, and I don't think they are people who have contacted me, but I do know that there are chat room stalkers that follow girls around from site to site, trying to learn about them I guess. lonly_uk_girl, cam_sxc_boy are two reoccurring names, both without profiles. Another side of my experience so far has been the webcam requests, a lot of people in their chat requests are asking for webcam connections. I can see the need for this is twofold in my paranoid view, firstly any potential suitor will want to see their pretty prey, and secondly they will want to make sure they are actually talking to a real 13 year old girl, and not some burly police sergeant!
Moving now to www.ukchatterbox.co.uk I get a very different experience, this site has registration, an email check, and the interface is quite different and includes a big saftey policy button at the top of each screen. Following login, I try to join a room, and am told that there is an age requirement of 16. I try the 13-17 teen room, and again I am told that I cannot enter although this is because of some problem. After some more fiddling I can't get into any of the chat rooms, and I think this is quite a good site. However my thoughts soon change...
I thought i'd actually have less chance in here than in the other rooms, but despite not being able to chat I find that Lauren has a new chatterbox email! It's from a someone called blobby2, and he asks;
"How are you?"
This is an odd opener I think, so I go digging and find his profile as follows:
Profile - Blobby2
Location / University
Now i'm scared; for fictional Lauren, and for all the girls out there. Despite the innocent question, I detect danger here. What is a 48 year old man doing contacting a 13 year old he doesn't know, and that photo! I'm no expert but he looks well dodgy to me.
So i'm struggling to know what do now? I can't get access to any of the chat rooms so I can't talk with him online, I could respond to the email and see where that goes, but maybe it is too late for that. Perhaps I should stop here, I have achieved my objective, and I think I agree now that it is dangerous out there for young girls, and teachers and parents do need educating in how to deal with this.
This is LaurenFlower94 and she is a fictional 13 year old.