By Carla Thornton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Anonymous chat site created by teen is too risky for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
The site can offer an opportunity for self-expression -- but kids could be placed in a conversation with someone much older, and all users might not behave appropriately.
Violence & Scariness
No threats encountered, though the site blog mentions instances of harassment "through vulgarity, spamming and so on."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexually charged conversations could occur; at least one previous chat participated in began with a demand for cybersex via webcam.
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Users can enter swear words in chats.
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Products & Purchases
There aren't any ads, but the site links to an adult site called Camegle Live.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Omegle is a chat site, and that its catchphrase -- "Talk to strangers!" -- says it all. Users are supposed to be 18 or older, but you just need to check a box to indicate your age, so younger viewers could easily access the site, which pairs two strangers together in a chat. Though both parties are initially anonymous, either could ask for and share personal information or make inappropriate/sexual comments, which opens the door to kids interacting with potential predators or groomers. Language is uncensored. Omegle could be entertaining for users who are old enough to navigate the site's uncertain waters and want to have a real conversation, but the odds of that consistently happening seem unlikely.
Videos and Photos
Based on 204 parent reviews
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It can be fun - but only for adults.
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What’s It About?
OMEGLE, pronounced oh-meg-ull, connects you anonymously with a person in a text or video chat. Users can enter a subject to be paired with someone who reportedly has a similar interest. If you enter an email that contains .edu or .ac to verify you're a student, you can chat with other college students. The site's homepage says video chats are monitored, but a note beneath the button you click on to enter one says "Unmoderated section," so their supervision level is somewhat unclear.
Is It Any Good?
This site's barebones design doesn't offer much of a visual experience -- and there are just a couple of ways to connect to other people. Kids can text or video chat with other users on Omegle. College students can talk to each other if they submit an email address that ends in a variation of .edu or .ac to verify their status. Users can also enter a topic they're interested in and the site says it will connect them with someone else who shares that interest -- although it's unclear what kind of vetting and analysis occurs behind the scenes. The other site content primarily involves usage terms, some of which don't seem to be strictly enforced. Users are supposed to be 18 or older, for instance, but there's no real verification process. Text in the Community Guidelines section says threats, hateful conduct, nudity, and sexually explicit conduct are prohibited on the moderated portions of the site. It's unclear how strictly monitored they are, though -- particularly since text on the homepage says "no moderation is perfect." While the site contains a link to an external organization that offers information on parental control measures, Omegle doesn't offer any specific tools to help parents monitor kids' activity on the site.
Chats can be -- and sometimes are -- friendly and kid-appropriate, with conversations surrounding topics like how each person is doing that day. Finding someone to video chat with can, at times, involve a wait. Some text chats end quickly, with the other user exiting moments after it starts. In theory, the site could be a way to have anonymous discussions with other people. Your identity isn't shown, and the other user is just listed as "Stranger" in written chats. The site description says chat users will remain unspecified "unless you tell someone who you are (not recommended!)" -- there's always a risk, though, that more detailed and potentially inappropriate information could be shared. Even more alarmingly, users are told if they're looking for an unmonitored experience, to visit an adult site -- and astonishingly, this site offers a link that leads to one. That aspect alone -- coupled with the other potential issues that could arise from using Omegle -- cancel out any communication skill strengthening benefits the site might otherwise be able to provide.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appropriateness of online chatting. 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.
What questions or comments can be a concern when you're chatting online? Discuss some red flags to watch out for -- and when kids should inform an adult.
Revisit Internet rules of safety, including: Never share your real name, age, phone number, or address with people you don't know.
- Genre: Social Networking
- Pricing structure: Free
- Last updated: January 19, 2023
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