Everything Parents Need To Know About Omegle
Omegle: The Dangers of Chatting with Strangers Online
Do you fancy talking to strangers? Do you like to socialize with people who are completely unknown to you, probably from the other side of the world? There’s a possibility that you are saying yes; why not? But would you be okay with your twelve year old chatting with a complete stranger? Needless to say, as parents, we want our children to be exposed to a variety of people, places and experiences that mould them into dynamic and motivated individuals. But what if the person our child is interacting with is a total stranger in a virtual interaction that goes beyond our purview and control? Is the benefit worth the risk? We highly recommend parents to block Omegle website on your child's devices. Let's see why!
What is Omegle?
Omegle is a chat website where a person can chat with a random stranger online without any supervision. Users are supposed to be 18 or older, but you just need to check a box to indicate your age, so teens and younger users could easily access the site.
Why is Omegle popular among teenagers?
- Omegle allows users to socialize with strangers without sharing personal information.
- It pairs random users in chat set-ups, identified as ‘You’ and ‘Stranger’.
- Invariably, dialogue is initiated by a request for the other person’s age, sex and location - ASL. An acronym the site's subscribers are well acquainted with!
- Omegle also offers video chat for adults. But without an effective age gate, underage users can use the site by pretending to be adults.
- Though it’s said that all the content on the site is unregistered, all chats are stored in a server. If someone shares any personal information (phone number, address, email), their data is stored.
- Everything that the users disclose about themselves is archived on the website's servers for about four months.
- In 2012, Omegle added a feature that paired strangers based on shared interests.
- Age, sex and location - these are valuable filters on Omegle. Unfortunately, this information can also be used by adults with malicious intentions to identify potential predatory targets. The popularisation of filters to convincingly change the look of someone to look younger or older makes it easy for predators to fake their identity.
- Conversations with strangers can be monitored or unmonitored, depending on the user's preference. But while ‘unmonitored’ might seem the obvious way to go, note that users are warned by Omegle of a greater possibility they will find themselves at the receiving end of explicit and inappropriate content when initiating an unmonitored conversation.
- Omegle added a dangerous feature that allows an user to capture a screenshot of the conversation.
- Omegle does not allow users to report, flag or block chats that may be distressing, inappropriate or illegal.
Users can even enter into what is known as 'Spy Mode' in Omegle. In ‘Spy Mode’, they can ask a question to two people engaged in a chat conversation and also view their conversation. Alternatively, the 'Spy Mode' feature also allows a user to discuss with another person a question posed by a stranger.
Is Omegle Safe?
Should you be concerned about Omegle as a parent/carer? The tag line for Omegle is “Talk to strangers”. There’s quite a history of controversies associated with Omegle which makes it frighteningly dangerous for children.
A few Omegle related crimes:
- In 2014, a twenty-two-year-old man sexually assaulted two thirteen-year-old girls he made friends with on Omegle. The girls were lured into a private meeting and later assaulted.
- In 2017, a virtual assailant manipulated two underage girls into engaging in explicit and inappropriate conversations that were later used to threaten the girls.
- Recently, a man from NY travelled to Charlotte for the purpose of engaging in inappropriate activity with a minor, whom he met on Omegle.
- The men who use Omegle to sexually exploit children have been the subject of numerous federal investigations, and the company has been the target of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, and a UN Special Rapporteur investigation.
Omegle's terms of service recommends parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) that are commercially available and may assist parents in limiting minors’ access to materials that may be harmful to or inappropriate for minors.
There are a number of similar dangerous apps or websites, such as CoolMeet, ChatHub, Emerald Chat, Chatspin, Shagle, Chatrandom, Dirtyroulette, Camsurf, Bazoocam, Tinychat, Poparazzi which are equally disturbing and filled with potential threats. So how do you safeguard your children from such sites? Teen lingo is hard. For example, do you know the meaning of pmoys? In an ideal situation, the best way to steer clear of danger would be to avoid using the site completely. Mentoring your child on the perils of such sites and applications also helps immensely. Setting limits and ground rules while they surf the internet is also advisable.
Omegle’s homepage itself confesses that "Predators have been known to use Omegle”, what good could possibly come out of indulging in such websites? However, the website does not appear to have any age verification mechanism in place which makes kids a potential target for the online predators. And even assuming the positives that can be attributed to the website, they can, perhaps, be accessed in greater measure and with more benefits from other healthier and more transparent avenues. Recently, TikTok users have recorded conversations happening on Omegle and then shared the videos widely on TikTok.
How to protect children on Omegle?
Parental supervision is not just advised, but necessary. A parent’s responsibility is to keep children safe and Mobicip parental controls makes it easier! Yubo is another app that can potentially be dangerous for your kids. Chathub is a free Omegle alternative where you can video chat with strangers. With Mobicip monitoring, you can block such sites or apps and help your child have a safer internet experience. Ensure your child's safety and enjoy peace of mind.
Stay informed, stay safe!