BOREDOM OR RISK? Teens who use Omegle run the risk of hackers and other online threats. (Olivia Shirk)
BOREDOM OR RISK? Teens who use Omegle run the risk of hackers and other online threats.

Olivia Shirk

Omegle provides a risky escape for bored teenagers

March 4, 2021

In a time when people are feeling as isolated from the world as ever, teenagers are bound to find a new form of entertainment, so what will it be? The newest craze is Omegle. Omegle is an online video chat website where users can be matched up with anyone from anywhere in the world. After premiering in 2009, the site didn’t gain popularity until 2020 during early lockdown. The website grew as more and more teenagers logged onto the site to see what it was all about. 

The site became extremely well known once it made its way to the app Tiktok around March of 2020. Many TikTok creators use Omegle to film their interactions with strangers and post compilations to the app. It became a trend to get reactions out of people on the site by telling jokes and even just having conversations. Texas State University student Teia Reese has gained 137.9K followers on TikTok by posting her Omegle interactions series on her page. 

“I used to go on for fun with my friends as a joke. Then I came up with some interesting ideas of questions I could ask and began to film them for Tiktok. I chose Omegle because you are able to interact with random strangers therefore I can get a variety of reactions,” Reese said. 

A collection of videos of Reese asking users if they wanted to see her cat, and then holding up her cat’s ashes, received 6.3 million views on the app, giving her a boost of fame. She continued to use the site, specifically by using the ‘tag’ feature that Omegle offers. 

“When you go on the site you are able to type in an “interest”. If you put in “TikTok” as your interest it is for sure less dangerous to come across anything inappropriate. I’ve had pretty good experiences on it,” Reese said. 

Although the website has the possibility of being a fun activity for bored teenagers, there are no restrictions on who has access to Omegle. The site does say it is meant for 18+, but that does not stop most underage teens.  Adults can easily log onto the website and be matched up with young kids which can have dangerous repercussions. Sophomore, Ava Fermuga, was wary of using Omegle due to the many risks it poses. 

“Omegle is definitely not safe for younger kids and perhaps most teenagers. There are plenty of nude people that pop up unexpectedly when you’re going through talking to people,” Fermuga said.   

Omegle users also run the risk of being tracked by international strangers. Fermuga stopped using the site after hearing a story of two teenage girls on Omegle whose location was found by a stranger while they were on video with them. Many users are able to track other users ’ IP addresses which adds another level of danger to the site. According to the Omegle Law Enforcement Guide, Omegle does not have usernames or registration but it does collect IP addresses and can keep that information for up to 120 days. Webcam snapshots from Omegle can be saved several hours after the user logs off the site as well. 

On parent review sites like Common Sense Media, adults with younger children all have the same opinion of the site; that it should be restricted from anyone under the age of 18. Parents don’t want their children possibly exposed to such dangers from such a young age. Many adult reviews offer the option to block the site from web browsers for their younger children to cancel any threat of them accessing the website. 

Laney White, the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, was appalled when she found out her daughter was using the site. 

This site is just a breeding ground for men pretending to be boys preying on young girls. Parents, do not let your children use this site. I am a huge fan of the internet but this is a very disturbing side of it,” White said. 

Although Omegle has countless flaws and dangers, there are a few fun characteristics to the website for the average teen user. Meeting new people and making connections is as difficult as ever amid today’s COVID crisis, especially for high school students who have the desire to talk to other teens throughout the day. 

“The best part of Omegle, I think, is that you can be goofy and never really have to worry about encountering these people again. It can be fun to meet new, nice people, and it’s especially a nice surprise when you find out they live a few towns over,” Fermuga said.

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