Website warning: Kids are chatting with strangers on this social media platform
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A warning for all parents: if you’ve never heard of the website Omegle, you’ll want to pay attention.
The site allows adults to video chat with random people across the world but kids are quickly finding it.
Not more than a few minutes into using Omegle for the first time, the 13abc I-Team came across an image far too graphic to show on TV or online. Now imagine if that’s a kid using this site instead.
“These are powerful devices. There are really great things about them and useful tools and then there are also a lot of dangers,” said Becky Swisher, a social worker with Washington Local Schools.
Swisher talks to parents, guardians and kids about internet security. If you’re not talking with your kids, maybe start here. It’s not an app, so a simple visit to their site allows you to randomly connect on a live video chat with someone anywhere in the world.
Sometimes it’s a live look at people. Sometimes it’s people laying in beds. Sometimes it’s shots of closets.
“The whole social media landscape is constantly changing and it’s really hard for parents to stay on top of it,” said cybersecurity expert Dave Hatter.
This site says you must be at least 18-years-old and you do have to check a few boxes to verify it but nowhere does it make you prove you’re actually of age.
Young kids, whose brains are not yet fully developed, are encountering the site these days. A frank discussion about internet safety now could avoid dangerous situations in the future.
“Once it’s digital in any form and you put it out there on a site like this there’s no way to get it back. It potentially lasts forever. There’s no way to tell how it will be used against you today by some mal actor who wants to extort you or somewhere down the road,” said Hatter.
“Have a good through conversation about what responsible cell phone use is what’s not allowed. The understanding that because you have this, as a parent I’m going to monitor this. I’m going to pay attention,” said Swisher.
It’s best to remind kids that even though you see a person on the other side of the video who may seem fine, you have no real idea what that person’s intentions are.
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