A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this chat site’s catch phrase, "Talk to strangers!", says it all. Though created by an 18-year-old, Omegle is not for kids. The site puts two strangers together in a chat room. Though chats start out anonymous, users often ask for and share personal information. Language is uncensored, and sexual come-ons and requests for email addresses are common. Omegle might be fun if both users desired a real conversation, but the odds of this here seem unlikely. It might be worth the effort for older teens willing to sift through the trash talk. But most kids should definitely steer clear. Note that there's also an app, though whether it's officially affiliated with site is unclear; however, it does have the same basic functionality.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Is it any good?
OMEGLE takes anonymous two-person chat to the next, satirical level with its tongue-in-cheek "Talk to strangers!" slogan and "You" and "Stranger" chat handles. The interface is bare bones, but the 'tude makes it a hipper choice than some other chat sites. There are even iPhone and iPod versions for "strangers on the go." Meeting a (possibly beautiful) stranger online gives anonymous chat sites such as Omegle an element of danger and excitement that most kids crave. Teen creator Leif K-Brooks describes it simply as a place to "make new friends," and we did chat with some nice kids. But it's also a fertile hunting ground for sexual predators who can take advantage of the anonymity. K-Brooks' attempts to make the site safer may have made it even less appropriate for kids. Perhaps in an effort to steer adults away from the site, a new banner on the home page reads "Pervs are Banned!" and offers links to adult-only sex sites, making Omegle even more questionable for teens.
Stranger-to-stranger chat sites tend to have more than their share of meat-market behavior. Judging from how quickly we got dumped every time we identified as a male, there are lots of boys here -- or men pretending to be boys -- on the prowl.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is there anything to be gained from talking to strangers on an uncensored chat site such as Omegle? What makes people say silly or ugly things to complete strangers? Read our tips on social networking.
Revisit Internet rules of safety, including: Never share your real name, age, phone number, or address with people you don’t know.
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