On the surface, Omegle might sound like the next cool thing to help kids buck the boredom of the lockdown, but behind those plain chat, panes lurk some of the vilest beings on the web. Omegle is increasingly becoming popular among kids, so you might have a hard time convincing kids on Omegle to take their minds off of it.
You might just have to let them use it but under your supervision. Oh wait, “How do you regulate it when there are so many spin-offs of the platform?” you say? We know. Your kids could just hop on any Omegle knock-off to circumvent you.
However, we’ll be sharing a few clever tricks that can help you stay on top of everything. We’ll help you understand the real nature of the threats Omegle poses to your kids and share ways to deal with them effectively.
What Is Omegle?
Omegle is designed to connect people instantly with strangers who share their interests. With Omegle, you’re just a few clicks away from chatting with a stranger. That could as well be a pedophile, a pervert, a con artist, or a miscreant. Not exactly the type of place you’d want your kids to hang out in without close supervision.
Here are some of the platform’s key features:
When you enter the 18+ section, you’ll find the Adult section, with a prompt warning of potential exposure to sexual content. Although the prompt states, “Video is monitored. Keep it Clean!”, there are actually no checks of any form in place. Just like, there’s nothing stopping under-aged kids from venturing beyond the prompt.
Once you open the Adult section, the camera rolls automatically on both sides, and the next thing you’ll see might be adult content – nudity, porn, or even live sexual acts.
But you can also indulge in other interests with strangers. Fill out other interests in the field below the adult section for better potential matches.
The next category in the 18+ section is clearly labeled “Unmoderated,” though everything in the 18+ section seems unmoderated, not just this. It also comes with a warning of explicit sexual content ahead.
Here, you have sexually titular subcategories, namely Sex and Gay, so you’re just about guaranteed exposure to sexual content.
Below the 18+ section are those open to anyone above the age of 13. Under 18s are requested to seek their parents’ permission, but there are no measures in place to ensure that.
This section in Omegle for kids also opens up to a chat window with a stranger on the other end. Neither of you will have a clue who you’re talking to. No username or a fake name, number, or any other personal data is seen, except users reveal it themselves.
You simply just get on the chat screen, say hi to each other, and begin chatting about your interest! Sounds cool, right? Except for the pedophiles, predators, and other miscreants who thrive under such anonymity.
Users can opt to save and generate shareable links to their chat, and the saved transcript records both users’ IP addresses, ID cookies, and some other user details.
You can also chat about specific interests on video with the Video feature. This section is supposedly monitored to keep out adult content, but with the lack of transparency and accountability on the platform, there’s hardly any guarantee for that. Many user reviews speak to this, recounting encounters with predators and pedophiles who lure Omegle kids with innocent conversations in here.
College Student Chat
This is perhaps the safest part of the platform because you’re required to give your college email address. Omegle states that they “won’t spam you, sell your address, or save it.”
If your kids are in college, you can loosen the leash and let them use this section more freely, but you’d have to make them promise you they won’t stray into the other less-secure sections.
Note also that the names of both participants’ colleges will be shown on each end.
Is Omegle Dangerous?
Still wondering, “Is Omegle safe?” The fact is that since Omegle doesn’t verify users, it’s a breeding ground for predators. As we’ll soon show, the threats from Omegle can come in many fashions.
It’s never a good idea to leave your kids all on their own on the platform. Here’s why:
Exposure to Explicit and Disturbing Content
In today’s world, it’s almost a certainty that your kids will be exposed to some sort of adult content online. But you should really be concerned about the type of content they can access on Omegle.
While in most other places, they might just view content passively, on Omegle, kids are active participants. They can interact with people indulging in sexual acts. That can have a more serious impact on their formative minds.
To boot, they could witness extreme sexual behaviors like bestiality, child pornography, or even violence. There are even reports of suicide attempts.
Although those behind the platform claim to monitor for this disturbing content, time and time again, we hear reports of the complete opposite, with people running into disturbing content even when they do not opt for it.
The creators do try to absolve themselves of any blame, saying users need to “Understand that human behavior is fundamentally uncontrollable, that the people you encounter on Omegle may not behave appropriately, and that they are solely responsible for their own behavior.”
Grooming and Extortion by Predators
You should know that sites like Omegle are on the watchlist of various law enforcement agencies. These sites are hunting grounds for predators. Here, predators can ‘groom’ their potential victims, striking up innocuous conversations and gradually earning their trust.
As they warm up to their victims, Omegle predators can start suggesting exchanging contact information, meeting in other places online, or hooking up in real life. If they don’t end up assaulting the kid, they could get some valuable information out of them, including their parent’s credit card information or important passcodes.
In some cases, they might turn around and blackmail the kid with anything the child has said or done, even if it isn’t really that damaging. For instance, a 15-year-old user once reported how she was threatened to reveal her private parts if she didn’t want to find her photoshopped images in porn scenes everywhere on the web.
Kids may also be exposed to scammers who use grooming techniques to win their victim’s trust before hitting them. They can start by making legitimate claims and helpful tips, compelling their victims to drop their guard.
The scam could come in the form of fake purchases, fake money-making schemes, etc.
Exposure of Personal Information
While they can enjoy chatting incognito, your kids could also easily get carried away in their conversations to the point where they give off seemingly unimportant personal information that could actually be used to exploit them.
They could divulge things like their age, address, school, interests, and favorite spots. A cunning predator could easily weave this information into a nefarious plan.
What’s more, you lose your anonymity when you choose to save your chat. That’s because, in order to label your chat file properly for easier retrieval, your IP address is stamped on the file, along with your ID cookies and a bunch of other personal details. Even a rookie hacker can easily lay their hands on these details and possibly use them to track you down.
Hacking of Private Messages and Videos
Just like everything about Omegle, security on the platform also seems flimsy. There have been many reports of hackers breaking into Omegle’s database successfully.
Omegle states that it collects and stores chat metadata like time and date stamps, IP addresses, and ID cookies, as well chat logs saved by users. Hackers who access Omegle’s servers can mine lots of data that could be used for phishing, doxing, cyberstalking, or even physical stalking.
How to Protect Children on Omegle?
Since you can’t rely on the platform’s safety net and might not be able to successfully convince your kids to stay away from it, you need a more clever approach to protect your kids from the dangers on Omegle.
Here are some of the most effective tricks to try:
Monitor Omegle Using mSpy
Thankfully, some third-party parental control tools can help you monitor your kid’s activities on Omegle from your own device. One of the most reliable is mSpy, which allows you to track their activities remotely.
With mSpy, not only can you see everything they view or share on the platform, but you can also block inappropriate content. If you have a tech-savvy kid, mSpy is one of your safest bets because it makes it very difficult for them to circumvent your control, unlike most other parental control apps.
You can choose to monitor them anonymously without them ever knowing. And if they choose to circumvent you in whichever way, you’ll still be on to them, so long as mSpy is installed on their device.
Consider Accessing the App by Yourself First
To have a more robust discussion with your kids about the dangers of the platform, perhaps you need to hop on it and have a feel yourself. That way, you can talk to them with real-life references, showing them the type of people and features you’ve come across that could potentially harm them.
Use and Talk About the App With Your Child
If they’ve been using the app in secret, try encouraging them to use it in the open by using it with them. Let them run as many sessions as under your supervision. That way, they’ll unconsciously develop an inner guide and internal restraints that’ll help them avoid toxic content when on the platform on their own.
If you let them on the platform on their own, it’s essential to create a safe space where they can talk about what they’ve seen, including unsavory things.
Brush Up on Data Protection
Another way to take charge of your kid’s safety on the platform is by promoting data privacy. Don’t stop repeating the dangers of giving out personal data to your kids whenever you have the chance to. Always remind them never to share personal details like their real name, address, a school with any outsider.
Also, remind them of the permanence of online data – any information they give out could be out there for eternity and passed around many times in unknown circles.
Are There Parental Controls?
As earlier discussed, there seem to be no checks in place on Omegle besides prompts that you can easily click away. There are no provisions for reporting harmful content or for filtering, blocking, or muting them (besides ending the chat, by which time the damage is probably already done).
While the platform claims to protect users’ privacy, there’s nothing in place to stop predators from grooming victims and taking them out to other platforms or real-life meetings.
Any form of parental monitoring will have to come from third-party apps, as discussed earlier.
Why Is Omegle Popular Right Now?
Omegle has been around since 2009, but it has grown wildly popular during the pandemic, as people are in desperate need of tools to keep them socially active and preoccupied. In particular, the platform is being promoted by younger social media influencers on TikTok, who prefer to use it to meet with fans.
These influencers regularly share their experiences with Omegle on TikTok, from the disturbing to the hilarious and provocative. To date, Omegle has had over 9 billion tags on TikTok.
If you’re one of those wondering, “Is Omegle dangerous?” you have a definite answer now. Omegle might sound like a curious place to hang out in, but in our opinion, there are safer places where kids can amuse themselves.
The platform barely has any form of security or safety in place, while it connects your kids with people that have potentially ulterior motives, from scammers to pedophiles, stalkers, and cybercriminals.
If you can’t stop your kids from getting on the platform, try supervising them closely and discussing issues related to the app with them. For more efficient monitoring, use a reliable parental monitoring app like mSpy to keep tabs on them and rein them when they dabble into potentially toxic sections.
Daniella is a wide-ranging specialist in the development of parental control applications and beyond. She knows all its features, functions, complexities and how to work with it. At the same time she studies the effectiveness of such applications in families where parents require control over their children for various reasons. Daniella knows exactly when it is worth using it and when it is better to talk to the child directly.