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What parents need to know about Omegle

 

With children spending more time online in the past 12 months, yet still craving social interaction, Omegle offers a virtual solution to meeting others. 

But like all online interactions, there is an element of risk. 

Omegle is an extremely unsafe site. Here’s what parents and educators need to know about the dangers of Omegle.

What is Omegle?

Omegle is an online chat website that connects a user with random people from all around the world. 

Essentially, it’s a virtual roulette of meeting other people. And although the past year might make you assume Omegle launched recently, it was actually created in 2009 by an 18-year-old American Leif K-Brooks. It initially launched as text only-chat, but video chat was quickly introduced as an additional feature. 

Omegle has gained popularity recently due to being talked about through the video-sharing app, TikTok. Users of TikTok have recorded conversations happening on Omegle and then shared these widely on the social network, raising the profile of Omegle. 

How does it work?

After logging in, the user has the option to pop in their “interest” tags. The platform then pairs the user randomly with another person to chat one-on-one based on shared subjects of interest. 

The two people matched together can chat together privately through text, video, or using a built-in microphone. A user also has two options to video chat: monitored chats and unmonitored. 

In monitored conversations, a moderator should filter out explicit content to reduce the risk of exposure to vulgarity. If a user chooses to enter an unmonitored chat, they will come across whatever kind of content the stranger posts.

Are there age requirements?

Omegle’s website states that users must be over 18 or above the age of 14 with parental permission and supervision to use Omegle. 

What parents and educators need to be aware of here is that although the website states it has age requirements, there aren’t any mechanisms to stop access by minors.

 

What are the risks?

As with any online chat platform, Omegle is risky. Online entertainment is more popular now than ever thanks to the pandemic and social distancing measures, but unlike social media or Zoom calls — which usually connect you with friends and family — Omegle exists solely to connect strangers.

That means there is the opportunity for any form of inappropriate content. That’s why Omegle even references the risks on their site stating “predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.” 

It’s important to understand that Omegle connects kids with strangers of any age. So, if you wouldn’t let your child speak to a stranger in public, would you really want them to speak with one online? 

Unfortunately, adult content is prevalent on Omegle, including pornographic content and adult language. Users have no control over what they may see or hear when matched up with a stranger. Some people use Omegle with the intention of engaging in sexually explicit conversations or participating in live sex acts, including with children and young people. Omegle is one place where predators have been known to hang out, with police forces in varying jurisdictions warning parents of the risks. 

There is also a lack of safety settings as the website doesn’t allow users to report, flag or block chats that might be distressing, inappropriate or illegal.

The Internet Safe Education Verdict

We strongly recommend parents not allow their children to use this website. This is not an online space for children of any age and those using this site will experience issues. There is no safe way for a child to use this program and does not have the functionality or purpose to produce anything positive. 

The good news is most children will never become aware of this site. Still, Omegle does exist and with one simple click any child can enter easily with no identity verification, no email address and no recorded user name. 

Once on the site the child will be exposed to extremely concerning content and behaviour. 

Internet Safe Education has personally worked with school communities and families recently whereby children have been groomed by adults for sexual purposes and exposed to live sexualised behaviour on the site Omegle. 

That’s why our recommendation is to stay clear of Omegle. 

Remember, this is a website and can be found in the browser history of a device. If we suspect or know that a child of any age is accessing this site we: 

  • Don’t panic 
  • Talk to our child about when they accessed and what they experienced on that site. Be firm with our requirement for them not to use that site. 
  • Block the site through device and account settings (This can be done now).
  • If we believe necessary, report to Crimestoppers 
  • Continue to talk to your child. 
  • Be confident you have done everything that’s needed. 

As always, ensure you’re talking regularly with your child about the risks of the online world, and keep an eye out for any warning signs that something might not be okay.