Description: Omegle is an online chat website that allows users to communicate with others without the need to register. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat via text and/or webcam anonymously using the handles “You” and “Stranger” (or “Stranger 1” and “Stranger 2” in the case of Spy mode). The app now costs $0.99 on smart devices, but Omegle can be used online for free by visiting www.omegle.com.
Category: Social Networking
APP Store rating: 17+ for “frequent/intense mature/suggestive themes and infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity
Live Nudity – The ability to be paired up with anyone, anywhere in the world should throw up tons of red flags for parents. Even the creators of Omegle warn that anyone under 18 using the app should be monitored by parents. From the opening screen, users are given the opportunity to participate in an “unmoderated video” chat, “adult video” chat, “monitored video” chat, or a “text” chat. A warning box appears if you click the “unmoderated” or “adult” links, making sure the user is at least 18 and is aware that sexual material is coming. And, beware, because it is absolutely true. Immediately upon joining one of the “unmoderated” or “adult” video chats, the user is confronted with live nudity from random webcams. Even in the “monitored” video chats, you will occasionally run into a simulated webcam where someone has inserted a still image of a naked woman, or there are guys who are disgustingly pleasuring themselves on webcam just waiting to have a video chat.
Talking with Strangers – “Text” chats are exactly what they say. A conversation with a random individual. Teens using this feature should never share personal information. At the end of a “chat,” users are given the option to “save the log” preserving any sensitive/private information that might have been shared. What often happens is someone will start a chat and offer their KiK username (or other social media site) where the conversation continues with all of Kik’s features. We have tested this site, posing as different people of different ages, and the level of depravity is shocking. When there is anonymity, anything goes.
Some Blockage – although the app is categorized as “social networking” in the app store, OpenDNS blocks the app in any one of its own categories: Chat, Instant Messaging, Adult Themes, Sexuality, Video Sharing, and Nudity. Omegle can be blacklisted (and should be) on any web filter.
There’s absolutely nothing good about Omegle and no good reason that any teenager should be using it. Parents should take extreme caution when deciding if their kids should use this app based on the risks noted.