Is Omegle.com appropriate for your children and teens? Why is it so popular?
What is Omegle and How Does It Work?
Omegle is an anonymous video chatting platform that pairs you with a complete stranger somewhere in the world. Yup, complete and utter strangers! You can use their text-only chat function, but most go straight to video chat. Omegle is not new - it has been around since 2009, and its UI interface definitely hasn't been through an update.
Note: Chatroulette is another similar platform that has the same functions of pairing strangers up through video chat.
What you need to know:
Omegle is not for 13 and under.
Omegle requires parental permission for those under 18. However, there is no real verification.
Most videos are unmoderated, and safety is not built-in.
Predators have been known to use Omegle. There is of incidents of strangers appearing with no clothes, paying young girls to strip
Users can pick from different ways to video chat through increasingly explicit levels of inappropriate content you’re willing to encounter. These include Adult, Unmoderated, and Video. Once there, you meet a complete stranger.
Omegle's "ADULT" setting
If you click “Adult,” a pop-up screen explicitly warns you that “You are about to go to a site with sexual material.” In other words, this is pretty much guaranteed to have nudity, porn, or explicit sexual content. These can expose users to live sexual acts.
Omegle's "UNMODERATED" setting
If you select “Unmoderated,” the warning reads “Because this section is not moderated, you are more likely to encounter sexual behavior.”
Omegle's "VIDEO" setting
This option isn’t labeled as “Moderated” and it’s not intuitive that this is the least dangerous way to use the platform. It’s important to note that while it’s “moderated,” inappropriate things can still occur while chatting.
The Dangers of Live Video Chatrooms
Children have been known to go on Omegle in groups, looking for innocent fun and ending up being in dangerous situations that can have a long term effect on their mental health.
It is an easy place for kids and teens to get groomed by online predators. The site itself alerts everyone that predators are part of the site! It is too easy for an individual to get a child on a private app and illicit images or a meeting. Predators are known to record their interaction and sell and share.
There is more to the site than sexual content, scams are everywhere, looking for the susceptible. They pry for passwords, credit card information, or even personal things like addresses and school names. There have even been instances where disturbing footage of fake suicides and drug abuse have appeared on screen, leading young impressionable kids to believe they're real.
Why Omegle is Popular Right Now
In a pandemic where everyone is stuck indoors and unable to have physical social interactions, meeting a stranger is enticing. Young influencers use it to meet their fans and platforms like Tik Tok have been used to promote the platform.
Omegle is for us a high risk site for anyone susceptible to persuasion or easily led, especially children and young adults. Do talk to your children and make sure they are not using the site unsupervised.