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  Chatrooms shut: what does this mean to you?
Updated 24 September 2003, 18.51

Newsround speaks to chatroom expert Dr Rachel O' Connell about what the closure of MSN chatrooms means to users like you.

If you've been using chatrooms safely, isn't it a bit unfair that you won't be able to do it anymore?
It is and I think the industry have not realised what a shock this will be kids. Children can form very strong relationships online with other kids and so this will be shock.

What should you do, if you want to keep in touch with friends you've made in a chatroom?
I think what children need to do now is think about identifying true online friends, and work out which ones are people who may not be who they say they are.

This is a tricky thing to do but there are a few things you can do.

A true friend is one who's going to expect you to talk about your friendship with your parents.

So if someone says to you: 'Don't tell anybody about our friendship' - then that's a clue that they may not be who they say they are.

Also, online friendships should be kept to online e-mail or chat. Therefore you shouldn't be giving out your mobile number to people on the internet.

There is a distinction between offline and online friends and it can be dangerous to meet up with online friends in the real world.

So if you decide to so it you must always tell an adult about the meeting, be accompanied by an adult to the meeting and always meet in a public place.

How will moderated chat rooms protect kids?
There are all kinds of moderated chatrooms, but the best kind of moderation to look for is when there is a real adult in the chatroom or where you can click on a link and say if you're not happy about something.

Microsoft say they're not shutting down their instant messenger service - do you have to have people's contact details for MSN Messenger service?

A lot of people use instant messenger programmes and theses are based on buddy lists. This means you have the contact details of your best friend.

It's very important to be very choosy about who you add to your buddy list and remember that if somebody you've added is not very nice you can delete them from buddy list or ban them.

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Past StoriesBORDER=0
Microsoft shuts chatrooms over safety fears
Chatroom crackdown helps kids be safe
Adult chat room abusers face jail
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