What is Omegle?
OCT 13, 2023
What is Omegle?
Warning: Reader Discretion Advised
The following content may contain sexual and child abuse material references. We believe it is important for parents to be aware of children’s potential exposure on social media that normalize these societal ills. Only by being educated can parents make informed decisions and successfully navigate tough conversations with their kids.
As a child, my parents warned me of the potential dangers of talking to people I didn’t know. “Stranger danger” has evolved to risks of children being cyberbullied, sexually blackmailed, and kidnapped by people they meet online through online chat rooms, social media, and even video game headsets.
So imagine my alarm when I learned about the Omegle app, whose tagline is “Talk to Strangers!” Omegle platform promotes the very thing parents have been warning about for decades—talking to strangers.
What is Omegle?
Omegle is a free online chat website and app that randomly pairs users to strangers for private one-on-one communication. While Omegle has an app, it can also be accessed on any device through an internet browser. No login is required.
The platform offers both text and video chat with strangers, making it more enticing (and more dangerous) for younger users.
Created in 2009, it has experienced a recent surge in popularity with numerous social media influencers posting about it. The hashtag #Omegle on TikTok currently has over 11 billion views.
This isn’t the first app of its kind—YikYak, Open, and Secret are all apps that failed to create a safe anonymous space in the past. Secret and YikYak both closed their doors, with YikYak being re-released in 2021.
Is Omegle Safe for kids?
No, Omegle is for adults the age of 18 or older and is not safe for kids or teens. Unfortunately, there are no proper age verification methods in place and no parental controls, making it easily accessible for children and teens to join.
Explicit and Child Abuse Content
Omegle interactions are not monitored, which means underage users can easily come across inappropriate content intended for adult users.
It seems to be such an issue that Omegle has a statement on their homepage that reads, “Leave Omegle and visit an adult site instead if that’s what you’re looking for, and you are 18 or older.” This includes a link to an adult site.
Omegle claims their text chats (but not video) are monitored, however, an investigation by the BBC found a disturbing number of users engaging in sexual acts and self-generated child abuse material.
We have found self-generated abuse material elsewhere on the internet which has been created by predators who have captured and distributed footage from Omegle.—Chris Hughes, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Hotline Director
“My daughter had seen some videos go viral on TikTok about people being on this Omegle, so she explored this site and there’s no log-in or age restrictions or anything.
“These people were saying she was beautiful, hot, sexy. She told them she was only eight years old and they were OK with that. She witnessed a man masturbating and another man wanted to play truth or dare with her.
“He was asking her to shake her bum, take off her top and trousers, which she thankfully did not do.”
—Mother of an 8-year-old daughter, reporting to the BBC
With teens dying by suicide after falling victim to sextortion scams, parents can become aware of sextortion risks online and learn how to protect their kids from online predators.
The anonymity provided by Omegle can unfortunately serve as a platform for cyberbullying. Users can be subjected to offensive language, negative comments, or even threats.
Studies have shown that when people are anonymous online, they are more likely to engage in cyberbullying behavior.
“A 2016 study led by Christopher Bartlett of Gettysburg College…found that over the course of an academic year, people who felt that their identity was concealed online were more likely to report engaging in cyberbullying behavior and holding positive attitudes toward cyberbullying (e.g. ‘It’s okay if someone deserves it.’).”
Because conversations are not well moderated on Omegle and a person’s identity is not properly verified, there is little recourse for dealing with such behavior.
Protecting Kids from Omegle
As parents, it’s essential to be aware of the risks associated with Omegle to keep children safe. It’s also crucial to regularly have open communication with our children about the dangers of talking to strangers online.
For example, you might explain to your children the dangers of pornography on a growing brain. Or you might focus a conversation on how they have the right to say no and can leave any conversation that makes them uncomfortable or pressured into doing inappropriate things.
Encourage your kids to come to you for help if they encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable online. Ensure they will not get in trouble, and that you will always love them.
Like any skill, kids do not learn to use technology responsibly overnight. Caregivers can help children grow into responsible digital citizens over time with careful consideration of what devices and parental controls are appropriate for each stage of a child’s development.
You may consider Gabb’s Tech in Steps approach, which helps parents by offering solutions that grow with your child. All of Gabb’s kid-safe phones were designed with safety as the top priority but each allows varying levels of tech flexibility so you can pick the right fit for your kid.
How do you teach your children about online stranger danger? Let us know in the comments.