Omegle is a platform used to speak to strangers. Their tagline is literally ‘talk to strangers!’.
According to the AACAP (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), ninety percent of teens ages 13-17 have used social media. And, while most social media is an excellent way for kids to stay connected with their friends, especially during this time of COVID-19, an increasingly popular platform, Omegle, is attracting more and more teens by the day. Below, we will discuss what Omegle is and how to ensure your teen’s safety while using this platform.
What is Omegle?
Omegle is a social platform that was launched in 2005, with the video chat portion introduced in 2009. Omegle uses the terms ‘you’ and ‘stranger’ for users and whom they are talking to (there is no personal information shared on-screen by Omegle), with ‘strangers’ being able to verbally share whatever information they choose, while video or text chatting. Omegle is not an app; it is a website that does not ask for any verification of age or proof of who a person is, and can be accessed easily on any desktop or mobile device with internet capabilities. Omegle does, however, record every IP address, their computer’s generated ID tag, and video and chat conversations. Everything that the users disclose about themselves is archived on the website’s servers for about four months.
Why, as a Parent, Should I be Considered About Omegle?
Teens are at that certain age where they feel both invincible and very trusting. They are also headstrong and feel savvy to the world’s ways but are more naive than they would like to believe. This combination may lead to a teen being manipulated to indulge personal information and/or meet up with strangers from Omegle without you even knowing about it. Your teen can never really know whom they are talking to – as in any person on the internet could say they are anyone or anything. The home page states that a user must be 18+ to use or 13-17 years old with parental consent, and as stated on the home page of Omegle; ‘By using Omegle, you accept the terms at the bottom, -and- ‘you must be 18+ or 13+ with parental permission’. This does little to deter teen use. Omegle does have a disclaimer on the home page that says, ‘Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.’
What Can I Do to Help Protect My Teen?
Of course, we know we can’t hover over our children 24/7. They need to know they can be trusted to make grown-up decisions while practicing speaking to new people who share common interests on video chat. But we should have conversations with our teens and even tweens about internet safety. Kids should be made to feel comfortable coming to us with questions and concerns about mature content they will most inevitably find while exploring Omegle and the rest of the internet. Omegle does include a helpful link on their home page for parents to explore parental control protection. It is important to be alert to any behavioral changes your teen may be exhibiting, such as mood changes, appetite and sleep pattern changes, and changes in appearance. Be prepared to have a conversation about these changes, but try to do so in a calm and non-combative manner. Remember, we want our children to trust our reactions. Otherwise, they may turn to a potential predator that reacts in all the right ways and says what your teen wants to hear.
Equipped with the right tools and knowledge and proper supervision, teens on Omegle can have fun learning about new people and new cultures. Remember to safe, vigilant, and informed!