If you ask me, the Internet is a pretty amazing invention. It keeps us connected with friends and family, helps us explore new hobbies, and gives us access to all sorts of information at the click of a button. It’s no surprise that many kids even use the Internet in the classroom!
However, not all sites on the Internet are safe for kids. The popular “talk to strangers” platform, Omegle, is one such site.
If you’ve heard of Omegle before, you know what I’m talking about. If not, the phrase “talk to strangers” is likely sufficient to set off your inner parenting alarm. In this article we’re going to take a deep dive into Omegle and sites similar to Omegle to determine once and for all: Is Omegle safe for kids?
What Is Omegle?
Before we can start talking about the website’s safety, I think we need to answer one important question: What is Omegle?
In a nutshell, Omegle is a free website that lets users anonymously video chat with random strangers all over the planet. Think about it like a combination of an online chat room and a Zoom call, with a game of roulette sprinkled on top. Sounds pretty shady, right?
The website itself has been around since March 2009, but the famous video chat feature was added a year later. Since then, Omegle has steadily gained popularity as a place to connect with strangers online. As of December 2022, Omegle receives over 80 million visitors every month—and the number doesn’t seem to be decreasing anytime soon.
While Omegle was developed with adult users in mind, it has quickly become a popular site for kids and teens. This is largely due to a recent TikTok trend (surprise, surprise!). The trend, which emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, saw many TikTok influencers and celebrities using Omegle to create videos and connect with fans. This led to a huge boom in Omegle’s popularity, as young users flooded to the site in the hopes of connecting with their favorite celebrities.
How Does Omegle Work?
Now that we know what the website is, how does Omegle work?
Unlike most social media sites and chat rooms, Omegle doesn’t require an account or age verification. This means that users run the gamut from 8 to 80. All users need to do to get chatting is navigate to the website and choose one of two options: video chat or text chat.
If you choose to chat via video, Omegle places you into a queue to wait as the site finds your conversation partner. Once it’s found someone, the site links both parties together via private call and creates an online chatroom. If you’re not content with your partner, you can end the conversation and rejoin the queue, after which the site will automatically connect you with another stranger.
Text chat works much in the same way, but without the video aspect. Instead of talking via video call, text chat users converse via—you guessed it— texts.
While Omegle typically connects users randomly, you can attempt to find a partner with the same interests as you by entering keywords. For example, if you want to practice your Japanese, you can write “Japanese” into the keywords box. The site then does its best to match you with people who used the same keyword.
Omegle claims that chats are moderated; unfortunately, the website itself states that “no moderation is perfect.” Additionally, users can go to the “unmoderated section” of Omegle. As such, some people use Omegle chats to discuss adult themes and sexually related topics that are definitely not appropriate for kids.
Are Sites Similar to Omegle Kid-Friendly?
It’s time to answer the big Q: Is Omegle safe for kids?
Omegle is absolutely not safe for kids.
I’m willing to bet that you already knew the answer. After all, any website that doesn’t ask for age verification and connects users with anonymous strangers should immediately make parents take pause. Omegle is no different.
Whether users are connected via video chat or text chat, Omegle is one of the least child-friendly sites on the Internet. The website itself even makes it clear on the front page that it isn’t meant for anyone under 18. As such, no child should be on Omegle—and even then, I don’t recommend the site to older users, either.
Here’s Why Omegle Isn’t Safe for Kids
We don’t recommend Omegle for anyone under 18. Here are some reasons why:
- Omegle’s anonymity encourages cyberbullies. As with many social sites, cyberbullying runs rampant on Omegle. When users are connected anonymously, they may feel more comfortable bullying someone for their looks, race, gender expression, body type, or opinions. Cyberbullying can greatly impact a child’s self-esteem and mental health. If you’re worried that your child is experiencing cyberbullying, watch out for warning signs and be prepared to give them a listening ear.
- Omegle collects sensitive information. Like many websites, Omegle collects data from its users. This includes a user’s IP address, chat logs, browsing history, and even video screenshots. Hackers and malicious bots that breach Omegle’s security can use this info to steal private information, commit identity theft, and gain access to financial information and bank accounts.
- Inappropriate content runs rampant on the site. While the Omegle Community Guidelines forbid explicit content like nudity and pornography, the site’s poor moderation means that inappropriate content runs rampant on the website regardless. It’s not uncommon for users to connect with a stranger only to be “cyberflashed,” a term referring to online and unwanted exposure to someone else’s body. The only way to avoid this content is to avoid Omegle altogether.
- Kids can connect with anyone—even predators. Just as Omegle doesn’t moderate chats effectively, it similarly doesn’t require age verification. As such, online predators may take advantage of these failures to meet and groom minors, as this BBC investigation revealed. In fact, the website used to feature a banner on the home page which noted that “predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.” Talk about a red flag.
What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Kids?
Omegle isn’t safe for kids. However, kids and teens may use the website regardless. As such, it’s our responsibility as parents and educators to protect young people from the dangers the Internet poses. Here are some ways you can protect your kids from Omegle:
- Block Omegle. Perhaps the safest way to help your kids avoid using Omegle is to block the website altogether. Many web browsers allow admins to block specific websites, so that nobody on the computer can access them. The same goes for smartphones (including devices from Troomi). A quick Google search should show you how to block any website.
- Discuss the dangers of Omegle. Often, kids and teens use websites like Omegle without being aware of the dangers they present. Discussing stranger danger with your children may help them understand why these websites are dangerous and discourage them from using sites like Omegle altogether.
- Teach your kids about Internet safety. As the world grows increasingly technological, Internet safety is similarly becoming a necessary skill. Hold a mini seminar at home and teach your kids about the basics of Internet safety. Remind them to avoid talking to strangers, keep personal information private, and stay away from shady sites like Omegle.
- Switch to Troomi. Even if you block Omegle on your home computer, kids with smartphones can still access the website on their device. You can easily avoid this by switching to Troomi! Troomi phones feature an amazing array of parental controls that give you the power to decide which websites your child can explore—and which websites they can’t. Click here to learn more!
Sites Similar to Omegle
Even if you block Omegle on your computer, there are a ton of online chat sites that work in much the same way. Here are some sites similar to Omegle to block and be aware of:
This is only a small list of the many dangerous chat sites that kids can stumble upon. Unfortunately, it would take days to find and block them all. As such, make sure to pay attention to what websites your kids visit and do your best to instill good online values in them from the start.
Our Verdict: Omegle Is Not For Kids
The Internet is a pretty fantastic piece of technology; however, it isn’t always safe for kids. This is especially true when it concerns sites like Omegle. In addition to connecting kids with strangers, the website lacks appropriate moderation, has an abundance of explicit content, and is frequently used by online predators. In fact, I don’t recommend that anyone explore sites similar to Omegle—adults included!
If your child is interested in making friends, there are many safer and more enjoyable ways to do so than through sites similar to Omegle. Sign your child up for a sports team, encourage them to join an after-school activity, or take a family art class together! Activities like these provide a safe, controlled environment where kids can meet new friends and make lasting connections away from the dangers of the Internet.