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Omegle

Omegle is a free video chat website where users are connected to others via video, text and audio. The main intention of this chat service is to link people together at random.  There are only ever two people in one conversation and the user’s identity remains anonymous unless they choose to share any personal information within the chat. Omegle offers a variety of chat services – a moderated text section and a moderated or unmoderated video section – but users are reportedly likely to encounter sexual content in all chat services. Users are encouraged to ‘keep it clean’ when using the moderated text service but it is worth noting that the main page has links to external free adult pornography sites.

Official age rating

The minimum age for Omegle users is 13.  The platform asks users under 18 to only access the site with parental permission.

As with most other social media platforms, Omegle does not have any rigorous age verification methods.

As users do not need to register or set up an account to use the site, there is no opportunity to apply privacy settings or parental controls.

Find out more about age ratings in our A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games.

How children and young people use the app

Omegle is a free video chat services where users can be linked up to strangers at random to chat and interact. Omegle is a relatively longstanding video chat service (launched in 2009) which appears to have become particularly popular again recently with young people, following the increase of Omegle content and footage on other social platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.   Largely anonymous social platforms like Omegle can be especially appealing for young people who perhaps don’t have as many friends in person or who wish to roleplay as someone different online.

Potential risks

Content

Whilst the site claims to be suitable for users aged 13+, the majority of content shared on this platform is only suitable for adults. A large number of users on Omegle use explicit and sexual language as well as sharing sexual content with each other via the video chat service. Whilst Omegle moderates some of its services, they do not moderate all of them and they state that ‘no moderation is perfect’.  The main page of the site also contains a link for external free pornography sites, which can easily be accessed by inquisitive children or by mistake. Encourage your child to speak to you if they encounter any content that they find upsetting or disturbing.

Connecting with others

With the tagline ‘Talk to Strangers’, it is not surprising that Omegle comes with extensive risks for connecting with others. The randomised way that the site pairs users to chat with each other means you have no way of knowing who you will be connected with. The ease with which users can start and exit a chat on Omegle makes this service fun and accessible for children and young people who may be less conscious of the risks.  Unfortunately, those seeking to exploit children and young people can take advantage of the open nature of apps and sites like this to make direct contact with them.  It is important to remind your child to be careful about who they meet online and to report anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.  They should also be careful about what they share and bear in mind that all content can be screenshotted, saved and shared further.

User behaviour

The fact that users can remain anonymous and that they are unlikely to know the person they are chatting  with, can mean users feel less accountable for their behaviour on the platform. Chatting with a stranger and the lack of chat history can lead to users making riskier decisions about the content they choose to share in the moment. It is important to explain to children that all content can be screenshotted, saved and widely shared. They always need to consider the content they share and really think about whether they would be happy for everyone they know to see it.

Design, data and costs

A key design risk on this platform is the easy to access links to free adult pornography sites. The way the site has been designed means users are signposted to free adult sites on the main page, with only a tick box confirmation standing between Omegle users and adult pornography websites. Make sure your child knows you are available to talk to them about any questions they have regarding sexualised content and pornography.


Tips for keeping your child safe

  • There are no parental controls and safety settings available for Omegle. Instead, you will need to explore the parental controls for your individual device or broadband provider, where you can put filters and blocks in place.

  • As you do not need to register or set up an account to access Omegle, it is difficult to manage interactions or content. Explore the parental controls on your individual devices and broadband service, which allow you to put filters and blocks in place.

    If you choose to allow your child to use this site, encourage them to use the ‘Moderated chat’ service, where at least there is some form of moderation in place.

  • You cannot report or block users in Omegle. Encourage your child to exit a chat immediately if they feel uncomfortable and to talk to you about their experience.

  • There are no features available that allow users to manage their time on the site. Instead, explore the parental controls on your individual devices and broadband service, which may allow you to set time limits and controls.


Key features and terminology

  • Stranger

    The person on the other side of the conversation

    Spy mode

    This is when a third person gives a question for another 2 members in the chat to discuss. The ‘Spy’ can then watch the conversation but not join in.

    College student chat

    This is where students enter their college or university email address and can connect with other students.

    Moderated section

    This section of the chat service claims to be moderated, but Omegle’s disclaimer states this service is not perfect, as you may still encounter other users who do not comply with the rules.

    Unmoderated section

    This section of the chat service is unmoderated. It comes with a warning box advising users they need to be over 18, but users can simply click Ok to proceed. Users are likely to encounter adult content or themes in this section.

    Adult site

    When the user selects the ‘Adult site’ option, a warning message alerts them to sexual content and asks them to confirm they are over 18. Once confirmed, they are automatically redirected to an external pornography site.

    Stop

    This stops the chat. Users are asked if they really want to exit before they leave the conversation.

    ASL

    This refers to ‘age, sex and location’ and is a common first question within chats.

General tips

It is crucial that parents understand that Omegle connects children with strangers of any age, so we would advise parents and carers to consider restricting the use of the platform for children and young people in their care.

It is important to encourage your child to become a good digital citizen and this means taking responsibility for the things they do online; the ways they express themselves; and the ways they treat others online. It also means encouraging them to be thoughtful about this, the digital traces they leave, and their impact on other people as well as their future selves.

Talk to your child about why they want to use it and what the risks and problems are, so they are prepared in case something goes wrong. Keep channels of communication open so they can come and speak to you.