Okay so maybe I am that old school type of mom. The one that still tells my kids NOT to talk to strangers. I'm kinda crazy that way. Well imagine my surprise when I received a letter from my child's school today indicating that many children in school were visiting a site called omegle.com.
Never heard of it? Well, if you aren't a teen, or an adult looking for a "special" kind of entertainment then I am not surprised. What I am surprised to learn is that this site has been around since 2007.
Their motto? Talk to strangers. Random strangers. Or wait, don't just talk to them, use your webcam with them. Yup, you heard me.
Here's the beauty of it. You don't even have to register to get started on omegle.com you can simply jump into a conversation with a random stranger and when you are bored with that conversation, randomly start another conversation.
Now of course it does say do not use omegle.com if you are under 13 and if you are under 18 use it only with a parent/guardian's permission so that will for sure make it safe. Unless of course you happen to have that child who doesn't ask you before they browse a website. Rare but it has been known to happen.
In case you doubted the types of conversations happening on omegle, you just need to peruse the Apple Apps store and read the app reviews (yes, there's an app for that).
This one posted by Morgan Ray is one of my personal faves:
"Perv much? Now ill say there are some true gentlemen on here but ive gotten strip webcam invites from the same girl idk how many times...too many bots and pervs...one more thing...don't try helping someone who's mom sexually abuses her...99.9% sure she wasn't who she said lied about bein a girl at first too. Her 'name' was Lizzie...when she said she was actually a girl just warnin you idk if she does that to a lot of ppl or not."
Another perfect example is this excerpt from a review by Sandra Garza:
"I give it 2 stars . It would be better if you can just have a nice conversation with a nice person without getting past the nasty perverts . "
So while we are educating our children on how to stay safe online, and how to understand their digital footprint, sites like omegle.com which is available for chats in 52 different countries are promoting the very act of being incredibly unsafe.
Parents, take action, install web monitoring safety tools like netnanny.com or Norton Family on your children's devices. Let them know you are installing these tools. But most importantly, teach them the ramifications of going on these sites. Get them to understand that "stranger danger" is not just a term that paranoid parents made up, its a reality of life. Take a visit to NBC's Dateline website and watch a few episodes to see how dangerous talking to strangers can really be.
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