Is your tween or teen using the Omegle website? We came across it recently and have been looking into what it’s all about. Omegle is what is called a “chatroulette” website, it hooks you up with a random stranger to chat. So here’s what parents need to know about Omegle.
If your tween or teen has their phone permanently in their hand, chances are they are using any number of social media sites and apps that you may not know anything about. TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter may be the main ones you know about, but there are MANY more so it’s important to know the ins and outs of what your teen may be dealing with.
Omegle is one that gave us pause for thought – deliberately chatting with random strangers is something we teach our kids not to do, isn’t it?!
We looking into what Omegle was all about – it’s definitely interesting reading!
What is Omegle?
Omegle is a chat website which promises to help you “Talk to strangers!”. You don’t need an app to use Omegle on your phone or tablet.
According to the Omegle website home page:
“Omegle is a great way to meet new friends. When you use Omegle, we pick someone else at random and let you talk one-on-one. To help you stay safe, chats are anonymous unless you tell someone who you are (not suggested!), and you can stop a chat at any time. Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.”
That last sentence says it all….
How Does Omegle Work?
You just start chatting with strangers by putting in a topic and clicking either Text or Video. That will take you to a new screen where you start chatting. The website will then connect you with a stranger to start talking straight away.
I didn’t try the Video option because I was nervous myself and I had read some really awful reviews of Omegle on the Commensense Media website.
I also read a warning issued by PSNI to parents after dealing with a disturbing incident involving two girls aged nine and 11 on Omegle – a male asked them to perform sexual acts. (They immediately alerted an adult.)
Omegle: What Parents Need to be Aware of
#1. You are supposed to be over 13 to use Omegle
However, there’s no date of birth input (not that that would stop a tween or teen). If you are under 18 you are supposed to use it only with a parent/guardian’s permission.
#2. It encourages chatting to strangers
The very objective of the site is to encourage chat with strangers. Though chats start out anonymous, there’s nothing stopping people from sharing their personal information.
#3. The video chat allows people to see each other
I’m sure we can all see the risks and concerns associated with this – most prominent is, of course, the risk of indecent exposure.
#4. Moderation is imperfect
Omegle chat is moderated, however the website says itself “moderation is not perfect. You may still encounter people who misbehave. They are solely responsible for their own behavior.”
Tips for Parents if Your Teen is Using Omegle
You may decide not to allow your teen to use the website, but if you do then here are some tips.
#1. Try it yourself
Try it yourself and get your teen to show you the basics. This is one of the best ways of learning and understanding what it’s about.
#2. Have a conversation again about internet safety
Remind your teen that they should tell you if they see anything strange or receive any adverse messages. And that they should never divulge any personal information to a stranger.
#3. Talk about connecting with strangers online
Have a frank discussion about if there is any merit to talking to strangers online? Should you? What are the risks?