The Appeals And Dangers Of Anonymous Online Chat

Updated April 4, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Why do people find the ability to talk to strangers online enticing? What benefits and drawbacks relate to virtual anonymity? Read on to explore the pros and cons of chatting online anonymously and how therapy can help you develop healthy, practical communication skills to express yourself and relate to other people.
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What is anonymous online chat?

Anonymous online chat rooms are digital meeting spaces that allow users to enter using screen names that conceal their identities. While it will enable you to protect your information, it also means that you can't confirm that anyone you talk to is who they say they are. 

“People talk about various types of content that range from deep confessions and secrets to lighthearted jokes and momentary feelings. An important driver for participation and posting is to get social validation from others, even though they are anonymous strangers. We also find that participants believe these anonymous apps allow more honesty, openness, and diversity of opinion than they can find elsewhere.” — Why People Ise Anonymous Communication Applications

Exploring how anonymity affects behavior

Stanford University researchers Philip Zimbardo conducted a landmark 1969 study involving anonymous and identified students asked to give their fellows an electric shock. The results show a significant link between anonymity and negative behaviors, such as abusive actions, aggressiveness, rudeness, or illegal activity. 

Appeals of chatting anonymously online

Chatting with strangers online without revealing your identity can appeal to many people. From those using anonymous chats to say mean things they’d never utter in person to shy people learning to establish social connections in an environment where they feel safe, there can be many benefits to chatting online without revealing your identity. 

You can say whatever you want 

With your real identity protected, chatting anonymously gives you the freedom to say whatever you want without the concern that it can be traced back to you. However, it should be noted that many people use this aspect of anonymity to say things they would never say in public if it were attributed to them. 

Interesting conversations

Many anonymous chat apps allow users to connect with people worldwide, which can make for interesting conversations that expose you to other cultures or ways to handle the everyday issues you face in life. While psychotherapy with a licensed mental health professional will be one of the most effective methods to manage your mental health symptoms, you may find caring, compassionate people in online chat rooms willing to listen to your problems and offer their opinions. 

Getty/Luis Alvarez

Easier than ever to find someone to talk to

The sheer number of users on the various anonymous chat apps means you can find someone to talk to anonymously nearly any time you want to converse. You can find someone to speak with anywhere you have a cell phone signal or internet connection. 

Expand your worldview

It can be easy to form a narrow view of the world and what life is like for other people if you only ever talk to people like you who are in similar situations. Talking to people anonymously online can expand your worldview and introduce you to people with vastly different life experiences. 

Many chatrooms with themes and topics

You may seek to talk to others about a particular niche topic. One of the wonderful characteristics of anonymous online chat rooms is that you can usually find them dedicated to specific themes or issues, making it much more likely to encounter others who want to talk about the same thing. 

Dangers of anonymous online chat

Parents have warned children against talking to strangers for generations. While anonymous online chat programs encourage branching out to speak to new people from all over the world, anonymity may let some people believe they can do, say, or behave however they want to online when their identity is protected. 

You can’t confirm who you’re talking to

One of the most dangerous aspects of anonymous online chat rooms is that you cannot confirm the identity of who you’re talking to, so there’s no way to know if the person on the other end of the line is who they say they are. Protect yourself and don’t give delicate information or contact details, and if you plan to meet someone in real life, meet in a safe, public place. 

It can be difficult to make a connection

Entering a chat room doesn't guarantee you'll find someone to talk to and connect with. Particularly for people unfamiliar with online chat rooms or texting etiquette (netiquette), it can take a lot of work to find people in a chat room you connect with and relate to. You may encounter chatters considering themselves "keyboard warriors" who use their internet anonymity to aggressively give opinions, make fun of, bully, or harass people in the virtual environment solely because they won’t ever have to face them in person. 

It can be hard to read tone through text

Text-based conversations can make understanding the other person's meaning difficult. You lose tone, body language, and inflection through online chat, making misunderstandings problematic. Your conversation partner may think a serious statement is a joke, or vice versa. Emojis can help you express your meaning through text, but you still lose a great deal compared with face-to-face communication. Constantly evolving “text-speak” and abbreviations can make misunderstandings a common occurrence.

Decreased social skills

If you already had difficulty communicating with and relating to people socially, spending too much time in online chat rooms can harm your social skill development because you aren’t practicing those abilities. 

Technical issues

Internet-based communication depends on an internet connection, a functioning server to host the app or program, and a phone, laptop, or other device that works properly. Mechanical and electrical systems often fail without warning, leading to technical issues that interrupt your conversation and may cause your conversation partner to believe you left without notice. 

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Predators lurking anonymously

Another significant danger of chatting anonymously with people online is that predators lurk in the same chat rooms as everyone else. You may end up talking to someone who tries to “catfish” you into a relationship, bullies or trolls, and even pedophiles or sexual predators. Guard your delicate information closely and protect yourself when talking to people in anonymous chat rooms.  

Chat rooms can be addictive

As with many things, online chatting can become addictive if you do it too often. While it can be nice to connect with other people online, the habit can become problematic if it interferes with your ability to function in areas of your life like work, school, or relationships. 

Adolescent users are vulnerable to risky behavior

The internet generally poses many risks to adolescents. While the expansive ability to look for information worldwide at the touch of a button reduces many barriers to education, it also makes it possible for individuals to use that anonymity to act cruelly and take advantage of vulnerable people. 

“For boys and girls, use of Internet chat rooms was associated with psychological distress, a difficult living environment, and a higher likelihood of risky behaviors. Although most chat room users did not report serious problems, this group included a disproportionate number of troubled individuals.”  — Heightened Vulnerability and Increased Risk-Taking Among Adolescent Chat Room Users

Reach out for help

Difficulty communicating face-to-face is a common problem that many people face. If you have a hard time expressing your thoughts and feelings in person, you may benefit from speaking to a qualified therapist to help you explore unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors, reshaping them into healthier habits with the support and guidance of a mental health professional. 

How therapy can help you build communication skills

Many people have trouble communicating with and relating to other people, which can make anonymous chat rooms more popular. If you have difficulty expressing yourself face-to-face, consider working with a licensed therapist online through a virtual therapy platform focused on relationship problems like Regain. Adolescents may face additional dangers from anonymous online chatrooms. Parents seeking online therapy for kids from 12 to 19 can contact TeenCounseling for assistance. 

American Psychological Association researchers report that online and in-person therapy offer similar results. Online therapy is typically cheaper and has shorter wait times than traditional treatment methods. With virtual therapy, you have the opportunity to connect with a multitude of therapists, making you increasingly likely to find someone who fits your personality, situation, and emotional needs. 


Talking to people anonymously in online chat rooms can provide numerous pros and cons for the people using them. The information in this article may offer insight into the appeals and dangers of using online chat rooms that protest users’ identities and how therapy can help you build your communication skills. 

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