Omegle App Encourages Talking to Strangers
When would parents consider their kids talking to a stranger good? Perhaps, if this stranger happens to be a female, over 40 years old librarian. In most cases, engaging in a conversation with an unknown man or a woman is reasonably associated with danger. Thanks to the Internet, chances for your child to meet a stranger with bad intentions are significantly increased. Both parents and kids often underestimate the risk of online encounters since they seemingly can cause no visible harm; however, it is a misconception.
In fact, online strangers can be dangerous, especially in places where they are able to remain anonymous and, therefore, unpunished. There are several free websites and apps that provide you with a possibility to chat online with complete strangers and do not require registration. Omegle is one of the most popular among them.
How Omegle works
It randomly pairs users from all over the world in one-on-one chat sessions where they talk anonymously using the names “You” and “Stranger” or “Stranger 1” and “Stranger 2” in the case of Spy mode. Created as a website, Omegle now offers a self-titled mobile application that makes the service accessible from any place via a smartphone or a tablet.
Users have the opportunity to leave the chat at any moment with a simple click on a Disconnect button. After the conversation is closed, they can stop using the app or be paired up with another stranger.
Besides text chats, there are two other options provided: a video chat and a stealth topic based chat, where two strangers have to discuss a random question from the third users who does not participate in the conversation, but can read it being in a Spy mode.
On its website, Omegle is described as “a great way to meet new friends”. Indeed, it sounds nice, especially considering the fact that you do not have to create an attractive nickname and can pretend to be another person without a need to make a new fake account like you’d have to do on Facebook, for example. However, it safe to say that using anonymous services you are guaranteed to read or watch explicit content. The vast majority of Omegle users are not after talking about music, sports or books, and go there for adult entertainment.
In order to feign a concern for children’s safety and comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Omegle set up age limit: its users should not be under the age of 13 and if being under 18, they can join chat rooms only with parental permission. However, a user’s age is never verified. That means anyone, even a 6 years old kid, can start a chat with strangers.
Omegle also claims that video and text chats are monitored by real people (only if a user has chosen a moderated section of the chat). Obviously, there is no way for such a huge amount of all the conversations to be under control at the same time. By the way, text chats are monitored only if a users’ IP address has been previously flagged for spam.
However, it is very easy to use another IP via special software. Considering this, users can actually begin to say or do anything they want while chatting without worrying too much about being caught. Alternatively, they can be already nude or engaging in sexual acts when kids enter the chat room, so the latter would not have a possibility to avoid it.
Omegle like any other similar website or app use a loophole in the law to absolve itself of responsibility if users under 18 join the unmoderated section by placing a written statement saying “You are about to go to a site with sexual material. IF YOU ARE UNDER 18, sexual material is illegal for you to view or possess, or you do not want to see that kind of material, PRESS CANCEL.
By pressing OK, you affirm that you are at least 18 years old.” However, the number of kids who have ever been stopped by this disclaimer is definitely less than the number of giant pandas whose population is at great risk today.
Dangers of Omegle
There are also other Omegle dangers kids may face besides being exposed to sexual content.
- They can disclose their personal data to strangers (e-mail, social media accounts, telephone number, home and school address, etc.). Making a kid reveal this kind of information is as easy as taking candy from a baby.
- Sexual predators who are frequent guests of anonymous chats can make them chat without the clothes on even if they do not want to and record a video for sharing.
- Kids may experience bullying from anyone for whatever reason.
- There is also a danger of becoming addicted to talking to strangers, as this experience is always unexpected and exciting, just how kids like it.
With this, your possible question “Is Omegle bad for my kid?” becomes irrelevant. However, would such dangers stop kids from using the app? Most probably, no. At first, kids like new adventures and seemingly safe chatting with strangers is one of them.
Sometimes they are too shy to make friends in real life, and Omegle offers them a unique opportunity to socialize regardless of how they look like, how smart they are and so on. Kids and, especially, teens are also eager to explore the adult world and often do not worry about where their curiosity can lead them to. That means, Omegle can be very attractive to your children and even encourage them to talk to strangers.
As a parent, you need to explain your kids that apps like Omegle are not a good choice for them, since no one can guarantee a safe experience there. The probability of meeting people who are just after making friends and discussing appropriate topics is very low. Most people just want to have fun, demonstrate and get an adult content.
Moreover, it is not an app for keeping in touch, since it is almost impossible to join the chat room with the same users again. Omegle also encourages kids for shallow friendships that they start to perceive as normal. Since cons of this app significantly overweigh the pros, it is better to remove Omegle from your kid’s smartphone or tablet.