ChatStep: a Parent’s Guide

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Is your teen using ChatStep? It came across my radar recently as I’m always on the lookout for news about new tech things that parents should know about, so here’s what parents need to know about ChatStep.

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What is ChatStep?

In a nutshell, ChatStep is a disposable group chat room and messaging service. It’s a private, encrypted, web-based chat room.

Users can chat using a nickname or anonymously. You do not need to have an account to use ChatStep but you can create an account for sharing files and photos and using the private messenger.

At the moment it is just a website but they say they are coming soon to iPhone, iPad, and Android as an app.

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How does Chatstep work?

You can create a new chatroom from the home page of the website, choose any name for your chat group, then your nickname, and an optional password.

Then you send your friends the room name – you can share with up to 50 friends via social media and they can join up and chat with you. When you all leave the group, everything is deleted from the servicers.

You can also join a private group that someone else has created.

Or you can access public chat rooms.

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What Parents Need to be Aware Of

ChatStep is easy to use and doesn’t require users to set up an account so chatting online becomes easy and quick. It has a well-designed interface and has an easy-to-use drag and drop system for photo sharing. All of this ease-of-use means kids or teens can easily use it without having to set up accounts. But that also means adults can do the same.

The other thing to be aware of is that chats are not stored by ChatStep, it doesn’t log any messages, images or user information. It also encrypts the messages before they are sent. It’s a space where anyone can message privately and they may not know who they are “chatting” to.

The ChatStep site is aimed at 18+ so there will be adult content on the website. This may be explicit.

Public chat rooms are not moderated or monitored.

There doesn’t seem to be any support available for the website. There is an email link on the home page but no Support page. There are mechanisms for reporting and muting people.

You may decide not to allow your teen to use the site, but if you do then here are some tips.

Tips for Parents if Your Teen is using ChatStep

#1. Familiarise yourself with the website

As we always recommend, try it yourself. This is one of the best ways of learning and understanding what it’s about.

#2. Make sure they are aware of the risks

Your teen should know that it is an adult site and that as such, much of the content may not be appropriate for young people.

#3. Advise them not to use public chat rooms

If they do use ChatStep talk to them about avoiding public chat rooms and only going to chat rooms that are from people they know. As with all internet apps or websites, they should never ever give out personal information online.

#4. Have a conversation again about internet safety

Remind your teen that they should only ever befriend true life friends or family members online and to tell you if they see anything strange or receive any adverse messages. Suggest that they only share their ChatStep chatroom privately with true friends.

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#5. Have a conversation about feedback

Talk to your child about how to deal with negative comments or remarks. If they do not feel comfortable, make sure they can show you that they know how to leave a chatroom or mute the sender of a message.

Over to you now. Does your teen use ChatStep? What are your thoughts on it?