What Is Omegle? Is It Safe for Kids To Use?
In February 2023, a 21-year-old woman launched a lawsuit against the online chat platform Omegle. As a child, “Alice” met a man on the site who groomed her for years, coercing her into sending intimate images. While the man is now in prison, Alice wants the site shut down [*].
Unfortunately, influencers have reignited interest in Omegle — helping drive more than 70 million monthly visits, and putting children and teens at risk [*].
While Omegle recently updated its terms of service [*] to allow access to users only over the age of 18, there’s still nothing to stop children and teens from using the service.
So the question remains: Is Omegle safe for kids?
In this guide, we’ll explain the risks of Omegle for both kids and adults, how to block or restrict access to the site, and additional ways you can keep your entire family safe online.
What Are the Risks of Using Omegle?
Omegle is a free online video chat platform that connects users with random strangers for a private one-to-one conversation. Created by a Vermont high school student in 2009, Omegle has gained popularity since the start of the pandemic, thanks to many users promoting it on TikTok [*].
Omegle allows you to connect on video calls with random users from around the world. Alternatively, you can use “tags” to match with people who share common interests.
Most likely due to recent negative press, Omegle users are now required to be at least 18 years old. (Previously, Omegle allowed children as young as 13 to use the platform “with parental permission” — and provided an unmoderated section for adults, as well as specific areas for college student chats).
However: Omegle has no user or age verification systems.
With its limited moderation and the nature of talking to strangers online, an Omegle video chat is a worrying proposition for parents.
Here are seven risks kids and teens face when they use Omegle:
- Adult and explicit content. As an anonymous video chat service, adult and inappropriate content is nearly everywhere on Omegle. A BBC investigation discovered numerous situations of child sexual activity and predatory behavior on Omegle in just a few hours of use [*].
- Online predators and exploitation. In Virginia, a 21-year-old man was sentenced to 16 years in prison for producing child pornography by using blackmail and screen recordings on Omegle. He victimized approximately 1,000 girls as young as seven years old [*].
- Cyberbullying. 46% of U.S. teens between the ages of 13 and 17 have encountered cyberbullying behavior online. The anonymous nature of Omegle makes it easy for people to target others with offensive or demeaning behavior and even encourage self-harm.
- Identity theft and scams. If your children divulge personal data — such as their name, location, and phone number — they could fall victim to fraud. Criminals use children's Social Security numbers (SSNs) and fabricated details to create synthetic identities.
- Racism and extremist behavior. The unmoderated chat on Omegle leaves individuals free to promote hate speech, racism, or extremist ideologies. Any child on the platform could be affected by interactions with such people.
- Malware and other viruses. While its official site shouldn't cause computer viruses, Omegle users can send links to each other in the chat room. Scammers and hackers can abuse this system to redirect people to phishing websites or initiate downloads of malicious software on users’ devices.
- Data leaks and breaches. Omegle allows users to save chat logs on their servers. But if anyone’s computer is breached in a cyberattack, their personal details — including photos and videos — could end up for sale on the Dark Web.
💡 Related: 12 Internet Safety Tips For Kids and Teens →
Does Omegle Have Parental Controls?
No. Omegle doesn’t include any parental controls, age verification systems, or features to block users.
Omegle has reported “tens of thousands of incidents of online abuse” to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. But despite efforts to ban IP addresses for illegal or inappropriate behavior, more children are targeted [*].
The situation has gotten so bad that [*]:
A cybersecurity expert called Omegle the “cockroach of the internet” because of the danger it poses to children.
A big part of the problem is that Omegle lacks features to block or report users for inappropriate content or behavior. Because of this setup, parents must use parental control apps and monitoring tools on each of their children’s devices.
Without these precautions, there's more risk that your kids could run into issues while using the internet. Bullies, scammers, and pedophiles can exploit the anonymous chat feature on Omegle.com to take advantage of your kids.
How To Keep Kids Safe Online and on Omegle: 7 Tips for Parents
- Install parental controls on your child’s device
- Have regular conversations about safe online behavior
- Set ground rules for internet usage at home
- Be on the lookout for warning signs of cyberbullying
- Be aware of other risky online chat sites and apps
- Protect your family’s devices with digital security software
- Suggest safer alternatives for online socializing
Approximately 90% of children aged 8–16 have seen pornography online [*]. Worse still is the growing risk from scammers, hackers, and online predators — all of whom target children on social media, gaming platforms, and messaging apps like Discord.
Here are seven ways you can protect your kids from the risks of sites like Omegle:
1. Install parental controls on your child’s device
As Omegle has lax restrictions, the onus is on parents to make sure their children can’t access undesirable and unsafe websites. With Aura’s parental control software, you can get peace of mind knowing your kids are safe online.
How Aura’s parental controls keep your kids safe online:
- Block or restrict adult content. Aura lets you set custom block lists for content and websites on your children’s tablets or phones, ensuring that they can only view age-appropriate content.
- Set time limits for specific apps or sites. You can customize the limits for each family member, making sure that teens and younger kids don’t waste too much time on social media or gaming apps.
- Turn off the internet. Aura’s Pause the Internet® feature makes it easy to enforce screen time limits whenever you want. With the mobile app, you can stop the internet from interfering with your child’s homework or bedtime.
2. Have regular conversations about safe online behavior
Without proper guidance about online privacy, children might disclose personally identifiable information (PII) or photos to strangers. In extreme scenarios, kids could enter into online relationships with untrustworthy individuals or predators. You can keep your children safe by talking to them about their internet use.
Here are some conversation starters about online behavior:
- Talk about protecting personal information. Show your kids news articles about child identity theft and help them understand why it's important not to share specific details, including their home address, phone number, date of birth, and SSN. Also, stress the importance of not sharing photos online — especially on social media or sites like Omegle.
- Educate them about internet risks. You can prepare kids for the inevitable time when they will encounter content with adult scenes, explicit language, or violence. With open dialogue, let your kids know they can come to you if they feel uncomfortable about anything they see or encounter online.
- Discuss cyberbullying. Parents should teach kids to treat others with respect online. You can also discuss what they can do if they witness bullying on social media or gaming platforms. With clear steps on how to respond to tricky situations, your kids will be safer online.
💡 Related: The Digital Talk: The Online Safety Guide →
3. Set ground rules about internet usage at home
Many children hide their online lives from their parents — especially if they know they are doing something risky. You can keep a close eye on how your children navigate the internet by monitoring their usage closely.
Here’s how to set ground rules about internet usage:
- Create a contract. With a written agreement, you can clearly outline how, when, and where your children can use the internet. Involve your kids in the process, encouraging them to set limits, rules, and consequences. For example, everyone could agree that homework always comes before the internet; breaking the rule leads to 24 hours without their smartphone.
- Keep devices in common spaces. Your teens might hate this rule, but banning internet use in bedrooms will stop kids from becoming reclusive. Set up a study space with charging ports in the kitchen or living room, and encourage everyone to leave their phones in the kitchen overnight.
- Ban the use of headphones for gaming and chat rooms. If your kids are in a common area of the house, tell them they can’t use headphones. This way, you can hear what they are talking about — and with whom — when they are online. This step helps you intervene if they are having inappropriate conversations.
4. Be on the lookout for warning signs of cyberbullying
Two-thirds of tween victims of cyberbullying claim the experience had a negative impact on their self-esteem [*]. Yet, even though the effects of cyberbullying can be traumatic, most young victims don’t talk to anyone if they are being harassed online. You must stay vigilant to spot the warning signs.
Here are three warning signs of cyberbullying:
- Emotional distress when using devices. One of the telltale signs that a child is facing cyberbullies is if the child gets angry or anxious when online. You should pay attention if your kid throws a phone or gets jumpy when receiving a text message.
- Deleting or creating new social media accounts. If kids are getting bullied online, they might deactivate their accounts to escape the torment. Keep a watch for your child creating new, blank accounts — it might be a red flag.
- Losing interest in hobbies and social events. Bullied kids tend to withdraw and become isolated. If you notice that your kid no longer visits friends or stops enjoying a favorite hobby, find out why.
💡 Related: How To Prevent Cyberbully: 2023 Parental Guide →
5. Be aware of other risky online chat sites and apps
Once you realize that Omegle isn't safe for kids, a household ban seems like the quickest remedy. However, there are similar apps to look out for, and some pose more significant security threats. If you block Omegle, make sure that your kids don't start using a copycat platform.
Here are four Omegle alternatives to watch out for:
- Chatroulette was launched the same year as Omegle and garnered more hype in the early 2010s. As it's intended for people over 18, Chatroulette has a lot of inappropriate and pornographic content.
- Tinychat lets people communicate via instant messaging, voice chat, and video chat. But, just like Omegle, it has no age verification process.
- Chatrandom is a website and mobile app that uses deceptively similar links to those found on Omegle. Its vague policies and sexual content make it a risky place for children.
- YouNow is a web app with similarities to Omegle and YouTube. As with Omegle, the lack of age restrictions on live broadcasts may expose minors to adult content, cyberbullying, hate speech, and dangerous behavior.
6. Protect your family’s devices with digital security software
Using Omegle involves a peer-to-peer (P2P) connection with other users, and the platform logs user data. By using Omegle — or other similar social networking sites — hackers could infiltrate your home Wi-Fi network, send phishing links, or infect your children’s devices with malware. You should use digital security tools to safeguard your family.
Here’s what to do:
- Use a virtual private network. A reliable VPN encrypts your IP address to hide your online activities, location, and data from hackers. This additional security layer can stop predators from tracking your kid's location or stealing passwords.
- Never use a device without antivirus software. With just one click on the wrong link or attachment, your computer could end up infected with spyware or ransomware. Aura’s anti-malware protection detects and isolates malicious software before it can do damage.
- Enable automatic updates. Software providers release periodic updates containing new features and patches for vulnerabilities. Ensure that your kids’ devices are equipped with the latest versions of every app in order to avoid the risk of being hacked.
7. Suggest safer alternatives for online socializing
If your children still want to chat with other people online, there are safer chat options. When you talk to your kids about online privacy, encourage them to use platforms with tighter controls and age-appropriate content.
Here are three chat sites that are safer than Omegle:
- KidsChat offers text-based chat rooms for children aged 13 and older. Users can choose with whom to start a private chat — rather than falling prey to the random people selection of Omegle.
- Chatous is a free online text chat service for kids, available on iOS and Android mobile devices. While there is a random element, Chatous pairs kids with chat partners of the same age group. Users can use hashtags and choose random topics of conversation.
- Kidz World is a platform for young children and teens, which includes a free chat room. Children can talk to other kids from around the world, but only after they register for an account.
💡 Related: The 10 Best Parental Control Apps for iPhones →
What To Do If Your Child Was Harassed or Scammed on Omegle
Christal Martin got angry when she found out her 12-year-old daughter had been on Omegle and shared provocative images with up to 30 men [*]. Parents need to take action to protect their kids from the risks of Omegle — especially if children have shared personal data or sensitive visual images.
Here’s what to do if your child gets into trouble on Omegle:
- Listen to them without judgment. Allow your child to tell you what happened in their own words. Try not to become upset or cut them off, as getting the whole story is important. You want to gather as much information as possible to know the extent of the damage and what to do next.
- Collect evidence of harassment or criminal activity. Document evidence of harassment or illegal activity. For example, you should create a folder to save screenshots (with timestamps), chat logs, photos, videos, and any off-platform conversations.
- Contact your local law enforcement. If the situation involves illegal activities, or you feel there is a threat to your child’s safety or family’s security, contact the police to report the incident. Bring all of your evidence to help the officers start their investigation.
- Report online predators to the FBI. If you want to report online child sexual exploitation, you can use the electronic Cyber Tip Line or call 1-800-843-5678. The Child ID app from the FBI allows you to store photos and vital information about your child, which you can quickly share with authorities if your child goes missing.
- Update your passwords. You can help your children secure their accounts by teaching them best practices for passwords. Ideally, they should create complex, unique login credentials for every account by combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Adding a second authentication factor to the login process can make your children's accounts more secure. Insisting they use a fingerprint scan or hardware security key will minimize the chances of account takeovers.
- Scan your device for malware and other viruses. With anti-malware software, you can scan and detect dangerous programs, including trojans, spyware, and ransomware. These cyber threats could compromise your child's safety and data privacy, so regular scans are crucial.
- Monitor your bank account and credit card statements. Threat actors could trick your child into sharing your bank account information. It’s important to review your bank and credit card statements for unfamiliar transactions and quickly cancel the cards if you discover any potential signs of fraud.
- If necessary, seek counseling and continue to check in with your child. Whether it’s online bullying or an offline encounter with a predator, looking out for your child's well-being in the aftermath of an incident is crucial. Your child may require professional counseling to cope with the emotional impact of the experience.
The Bottom Line: Omegle Can Put Your Child at Serious Risk
Omegle has become popular again with people of all ages, including children and teens — but anonymous interactions online are inherently dangerous.
While kids might want to have fun in a chat room, a chance meeting with the wrong person could pose a serious threat to your child’s safety and your entire family’s physical and financial security.
As the #1-rated identity theft protection platform, Aura offers a suite of digital security tools to keep your kids safe online against threats from predators, adult content, identity thieves, and scammers.
Aura’s Family Plan includes the following protections:
- Parental controls, including app blocks, screen limits, chat monitoring, and real-time alerts about your child’s activity.
- 24/7 three-bureau credit monitoring with rapid fraud alerts that are up to 250x faster than other digital security providers3.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) with military-grade encryption to hide your browsing activity and location.
- Antivirus software to protect your children’s laptops, smartphones, tablets, and consoles against phishing emails and malware threats.
- Dark Web monitoring scans the internet and alerts you if any sensitive data is circulating on the Dark Web, like your child's SSN.
- $1,000,000 insurance policy for each adult on your plan to cover eligible losses due to identity theft — such as stolen money, credit cards, and passports.
- White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists who provide U.S.-based 24/7 support to help you navigate challenges with banks, creditors, and government agencies.