It is always a fun idea to meet new people. There is an excitement that bounces off when you know that you will meet another person and explore alternate perspectives with that person with whom you share similar interests. Besides, you will also find a certain novelty behind it.
As parents, we would all want our children to be exposed to a wide assortment of experiences, places, and people; it will help shape them into inspired and dynamic adults. However, when the person who is interacting with your kid is a total stranger, the risk of a virtual interaction might go beyond control; in this case, the benefit most certainly is not worth the risk.
One such site is Omegle, which is a website that provides people of all ages the enticing proposition of talking to a total stranger. Even its tagline reads ‘Talk to Strangers.’
What is Omegle?
So, what is Omegle? Omegle is a free online chat site that started its operation in 2009; interestingly, the site, Chatroullete, was also started around the same time. The chat site was created by Leif KL-Brooks from Vermont and managed to hit 150,000 page views per day in less than a month of its creation.
On average, almost 35% of its global database are Americans, which only goes on to prove that the site is extremely popular in the States. Omegle has set the milestone for being the first of the many webcam chat sites that were about to be released to the market, some of them including:
What happens in Omegle?
In this site, randomly paired users engage in chats that are primarily instant text messages; additionally, these text messages can also be video-enabled with webcams. Invariably, the dialogue is initiated by request for the other person’s ASL (age, sex, and location).
Because Omegle is intended to be used specifically for chatting with strangers, age, sex, and location are considered important filters.
How does Omegle work?
Similar to other online chat sites, you can use the services of Omegle without having to register for it. Once you have typed down the name of the site on the address bar, you will be taken to the main website, where Omegle will set you up with a random stranger for a one-on-one chat session. The users will appear with names like ‘You‘ and ‘Stranger.’ Additionally, there is also a Spy mode where both parties identify themselves as Stranger 1 and Stranger 2.
When Omegle started, it was initially a text chat feature. However, the site added a video mode in 2010, therefore pairing users with webcams and microphones. This video chat feature has its own in-built text window.
The very next year, Omegle introduced the Spy Mode. Here, users can spy and ask questions to the two strangers. There may also be a possibility of a discussion with another stranger. As a spy, you also have the choice of answering the question as a third party. The Spy can quit the chat at any given time and leave the other two users chatting with each other.
In the normal text mode, you have the choice to discuss the question instead. You will be paired with another stranger, and the user can discuss the question provided by the spy. This can continue until the stranger decides to quit the chat.
In 2012, Omegle added yet another interesting feature to the text and video modes – the interest tags. This means that you have the choice of entering tags of things that interest you like music, arts, sports, food, movies, etc. Once done, the site’s algorithm will work to pair you up with strangers with whom you share common interests. If the algorithm is not able to pair you up based on interest, it will pick a random stranger.
Why should you be concerned with Omegle?
As mentioned above, Omegle sets you up with users to engage in one-on-one chats. While the ASL provides basic information about the stranger, this information can also be used by pedophiles and adults for malicious intentions and look for potential targets.
Even the people that created Omegle strongly advise adult supervision for younger users and should not be accessed by children below the age of 18.
Additionally, activities on the site like the computer’s ID tag and IP address are generated randomly along with the information about the user and the chat partner. However, you need to be careful about what you are about to disclose. Any information you disclose, no matter how harmless it might seem, gets archived into the Omegle server for four months.
Depending on your preferences, conversations with strangers can be monitored or unmonitored. While you might get some privacy in the unmonitored mode, you will also face greater chances of being on the receiving end of inappropriate and explicit content.
You also have the option of saving your conversation at the end of a session. However, you have no real control of how the strangers are interacting with your child and will use all the chat-related information to gain some sinister advantage.
Controversies at Omegle
What are Omegle controversies? Of course, the chatting video site has seen its fair share of controversies. For instance, a 22-year old man sexually assaulted two 13-year old minors in 2014. The girls were lured into a private room and then taken to the house of the assaulter where the atrocities took place.
In 2017, a virtual assailant managed to manipulate two young girls into engaging inappropriate and explicit conversations; if they did not comply, the assailant would start threatening the underaged girls.
The above are just two of the many notorious incidents that have taken place in Omegle, thereby earning the chat side dubious credibility.
How do you protect your child from such notorious activities on Omegle?
It is important for any parent to ensure that their child/children remain safe from such sites. In a normal situation, the best way to do so is to make sure your children never use the site. You need to educate your child about the perils and dangers of such websites.
You can also set up ground rules and limits while your children are busy surfing the internet. And you can also make use of commercially-available parental control tools and software so that your children cannot access such sites, even if they want to. This will help you curb down the probability of possible harm.
Over the years, the site has become an avenue for harmful online content. Some types of searches that are done include Omegle sex, Omegle pussy, Omegle nude, Omegle girls, Omegle porn, etc. The site also mentions that over 60% of its daily user database is looking for adult content. Users of this site also visit other chat sites, Chaturbate and porn sites like XVideos and PornHub. Protecting your children from such sites and the people who visit them is of utmost importance.
Now you have an idea about what is Omegle. As parents, you need to ask yourself whether such sites are worth the risk. Even when you open the main homepage of Omegle, the site displays ‘Predators are known to use Omegle‘. Hence, it is understood that no good can come from such websites. In cases like these, parental supervision is necessary.