The idea behind Omegle is very simple: chat with strangers online. This is a familiar concept for anyone who’s heard of Chatroulette. And like Chatroulette, people use Omegle for one of three reasons: to meet new people with similar interests, to get a kick from some of the absurd and random things you’ll see people doing, or to find someone who’s mutually interested in engaging in some sort of cyber sex.
From the perspective of a parent, the first two don’t seem all that scary, especially if you feel that your teen is mentally mature enough to conduct themselves appropriately and recognize the risks of sharing personal information with strangers. But the third reason should (obviously) throw up a lot of red flags, not because your teen is necessarily looking for that encounter, but because they could very easily come across it. For that reason alone, you might want to consider blocking Omegle on all Internet connected devices in your home and in your teen’s hand. But let’s go back to how Omegle actually works…
When you go to Omegle’s website (they also have an iPhone/iPod and iPad app), you’re given two options for starting your one-on-one chat session; you can chat in text-only (Spy mode) or with video, which, of course, requires a webcam. You can jump right in and start chatting with a completely random stranger, or you can connect with people based on specific interests. You can even connect your Facebook account to Omegle and pull your interests from there. Once you’ve made a decision about how you want to chat, you’re immediately paired with a stranger. If either party isn’t interested, they can disconnect and move on to the next person. And that’s pretty much all of Omegle in a nutshell.
The Omegle staff takes a clear stance on the issue of perverts. Right on their homepage they post a “decency enforced” message that lets perverts know they’re not welcome, and provide them with a link to a site, like Omegle, where their perversion might be more welcome.
That being said, Omegle is a site and app for older teens and adults. It is not, by any means, a service that was made with safety in mind, regardless of whether or not they have people monitoring it. As with any video chatting site that’s focused on encouraging users to talk to strangers, Omegle is bad news for your child or young teen. It’s a breeding ground for unwelcomed interaction on an international level. Be sure to talk to your friends and family about it.
What You Can Do
- You can block the Omegle app on your child or teen’s iPhone, iPod and iPad by using the Restrictions feature and disabling app downloads. Follow this step-by-step picture guide.
- If you don’t want to disable app downloads entirely – as there are a vast number of age-appropriate apps available – their iDevice should be synced with your iTunes account. (Learn how to do that here). This allows you to keep the password to yourself, which means you have to enter it when your child wants to download an app. Remember that after entering your password, they have 15 minutes to download as many apps as they’d like without being asked for the password again, so be sure you check what they’ve downloaded either by syncing their account or by reviewing their device.
- If your child or teen uses an Android device, you can follow the picture guide at the end of this article.
- You can block the Omegle website on your computer by following these step-by-step picture guides, as well.