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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Apps Parents Should Know About: Omegle

Several years ago, someone had mentioned to me a new website called Chatroulette, where users can chat with strangers using their webcams. This website became a hotbed for child predators; however, there is a similar site that parents should be aware of called Omegle.

What is Omegle? 

Omegle functions the same way as Chatroulette. This site allows users to annonymously chat with other anonymous users via an instant message and / or webcam. If you don't want to chat with the person on the other end, you simply choose "next" and you will chat with another random user.

This website is being used by teens and tweens all over the country, who are bored and are excited with the site's tagline "talk with strangers." In order to fully understand this site, I decided to try it out and was shocked at what I saw. A large majority of the users were naked males over the age of 18 years old, who were exposing their genitals.

What You Should Know

Omegle is filled with users who are looking for more than a friendly conversation. I would highly recommend talking with your child about the dangers of visiting such sites. Many of our kids have a false sense of security over virtual strangers. There is a belief that nothing can happen over the Internet. Unfortunately, everyday there are headlines that suggest otherwise.

Sites and apps like Omegle are often used as a "gateway" to other Apps. Users often meet on Omegle and turn to instant messaging apps like Kik to continue the conversation, share photos, videos, etc. Users still have a certain level of anonymity because Kik only requires a username. No cell phone number or personal information is required.

As a parent, we need to talk to our kids about what is acceptable and unacceptable information to share over the Internet, such as information that reveals your location, identity, and pictures/videos that could haunt you later. I love the line in the movie The Social Network, which states that the "Internet is ink, not pencil." In other words, everything that we do on the Internet has the potential to be a permanent part of our identity.

Need more resources?

I am currently developing a website that is filled with information about apps, websites, and resources that parents should know about. Check it out!

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