In this age of internet frenzy, kids have found ingenious ways to chat with peers, friends — even total strangers — without their parents’ knowledge. There may be nothing wrong with the chat apps themselves, but as a parent, being aware of various social media platforms your teenager is using can help prevent them from exposure to dangerous elements.
Here are eight apps that teenagers and younger children are using to chat with others.
Omegle is a free online chatting service. Its popularity spiked over the past few months due to more people being home and looking to meet others during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also become popular with influencers posting to YouTube, which is driving more young visitors.
It’s supposed to only serve people 13 and older, but there is no age-verification. And things get worse from there.
Why you should be concerned:
Chats are anonymous unless you reveal your identity by turning on your web camera. When a chat starts, people are just identified as “you” and “stranger,” but if the camera is on the other person can see you. Chats are listed as moderated or unmoderated, but there were plenty of shenanigans happening in the allegedly moderated rooms.
Also, what child or teen is going to go to a moderated room if he has the chance of going into an unmoderated chat?
There is also an unmoderated Omegle adult site that is just that — very adult with adults doing adult-like things. There is no age verification to enter; the user simply clicks the “OK” button to confirm they are over 18, and they are allowed in.
There are no parental controls, and the Omegle site clearly puts the responsibility on the parent. There used to be an app so if that’s on your child’s phone, delete it. You can also block the site on your home browsers so kids can’t access it from a computer. Read more about Omegle here.