Ask Titania: Why Are Kids So Drawn to Omegle?
**Update: As of November 2023, Omegle has shut down over claims of abuse.**
My 11-year-old son came home from school the other day talking about a “game” kids play at sleepovers called “Omegle.” He said it matches you up with random people and you can text/video chat with them. This sounds like a horrible idea, but apparently kids are constantly getting on it. What do I need to know? Why are kids so drawn to this upsetting website? And is there any way to talk to my son about how dangerous this is?
Dear Over Omegle,
First off, there’s absolutely nothing — and I mean nothing — redeeming about Omegle. Your parenting intuition was 100% on the money for this one. I’ve heard from countless parents like you about how common this anonymous chatting app is in middle and high schools, and it’s truly frightening. The things kids can encounter are super concerning and could even scar some young people for life! You can see firsthand accounts of inappropriate exposure on Omegle in the comments section on this TikTok I recently posted. The fact that kids are coming to my video to share their stories is both eye-opening and heartbreaking.
- Omegle is an incredibly inappropriate anonymous chatting app that connects strangers from all over the world.
- Video chats can expose kids to graphic sexual activity and potential online predators seeking to take advantage of children.
- Kids have been known to go on Omegle during sleepovers or after school as a thrill-seeking activity.
- It’s important to talk to your child about the dangers of participating in Omegle chats.
What Is Omegle and How Does It Work?
Omegle is a website that touts itself as a way to talk to strangers. All you need is access to a web browser, whether that’s on a phone, tablet, laptop, gaming console, or TV.
One of the most shocking things about Omegle is that its homepage has a direct link to porn straight off the bat. They claim it’s there so if you’re looking to be inappropriate, you can just watch pornography instead of using Omegle. But all this does is encourage kids to not only use Omegle, but watch the supplied porn. Absolutely ridiculous.
You’ll read several warnings on the site that it’s for 18+, but there’s absolutely no age verification to start chatting. The site also says that video chat is moderated, but I’ve seen no proof that that’s actually true — unless they’re cool with nudity and sexual acts on screen.
Once you click into the chat, you’ll be paired up with a stranger after you choose text chat or video chat. Then, it’s exactly what you’d expect — picture a Zoom call with a stranger. It’s awkward, weird, and uncomfortable. There’s a chance you could be paired with a fellow kid, but you’re never in control of who you match with. And because of Omegle’s reputation, the potential for sexual content is extremely high — including naked videos, live on-screen sex acts and more.
The Lure of Anonymous Chatting Apps
Omegle is the 21st century version of logging on to an adults-only AOL chat room, something that many teens did back in the 90s. Kids really haven’t changed through the years — but technology has.
And today, tech gives kids a readily available, free way to act impulsively. When are kids using Omegle? They’re logging on after midnight at a sleepover when they’re hopped up on soda and lack of sleep. Or maybe they’re just on their laptop after school before parents get home.
The chance that they might encounter something risque or “bad” is the driving force — even if deep down they’re scared or worried. Add in group dynamics and it gets a lot more complicated.
How to Talk to Your Kid About Omegle
Kids may think that Omegle is just weird harmless fun, akin to watching an R-rated movie when your parents aren’t home. But tweens and teens may not be emotionally ready to see some of the things they may encounter on the site.
Here are a few conversation starters to get your and your child thinking about Omegle and how it may affect them.
- Ask, “What kinds of things have you heard about your friends seeing on Omegle?” This is a good question if your child hasn’t yet used Omegle but knows classmates who have. They may know that the site is inappropriate, or they may just think it’s random chatting with other kids.
- Ask, “What would you do if you saw someone naked on Omegle?” This may or may not happen on Omegle, but the chances are high. The question may be hard to ask, and your child may groan or laugh, but it’s important to talk about. For one thing, if they witness something inappropriate, they can always immediately close the window. Make sure they know they can always come to you if what they see makes them feel uncomfortable — even if you tell them they’re not allowed to use Omegle. At the end of the day, your child’s emotional and mental health are more important than getting angry at them for breaking a rule. And it’s possible that what they see may upset them, even if they didn’t expect it to.
- Ask, “Why do you think people do inappropriate things on Omegle?” Helping your child to understand why this site exists could help them understand why you think it’s a bad idea and not just a unilateral “because I said so.” Stress that you want to protect them from weird people and potential child predators.
Ways Bark Can Help
One of the first things you can do is use Bark’s filtering tools to block Omegle.com on your child’s devices. Bark Home will even let you block the site on browsers on TVs and gaming consoles. There’s still the chance that your kid may encounter Omegle on a friend’s device, but at least this way you're covering all the bases that you can.
Bark can also monitor your child’s online activities for signs of sexual content (if they screenshot an image from Omegle, for example), online predators (which can be prevalent on the site), and more. When you get an alert, you not only have the chance to see what’s going on in your child’s world, you also can check in and make sure everything’s okay.
This stuff isn’t easy — our parents just had to worry about us making prank phone calls to strangers, which while annoying, usually didn’t put us in direct danger. Good luck!
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