Four out of five GKIS interns this semester admit to visiting dangerous video chat sites as middle schoolers despite parent warnings. Could that mean it’s common these days? After surveying friends, we think so. Parents have no idea what kids are actually seeing and doing during these online chats. Today’s GKIS article is the real story from the mouth of a millennial, where I discuss how we worked around parent supervision and what actually happens in popular chat rooms. Learn what video chat rooms are, the dangers associated with them, red flags to look out for, and just how simple it is for your child to access them. With this information, you can parent smarter and prevent digital injury … our GetKidsInternetSafe mission.
Video Chat Rooms, Sites, and Apps
Video chat is a way to interact face-to-face with anyone around the world through webcams. Video chat rooms are on multiple platforms including online websites and apps on your child’s smartphone, computer, gaming system, or tablet.
To place a video chat call, all your child needs are internet access and a webcam. Video chat sites and apps can also include alternative ways of communication such as instant messaging and chatting through sharing photos. Video chat sites and apps randomly pair your child with another user.
The Most Popular Video Chat Websites and Apps
There are hundreds of video chat websites and apps that are easily accessible. Many video chat sites and apps are free, while others require purchase. The most popular sites include; Omegle.com, DirtyRoulette.com, ChatRandom.com, and Chatroullette.com.
Video chat sites accumulate millions of users a month, with the most popular being Omegle.com with a whopping 34,000,000 monthly visitors. The most popular video chat apps for Android and IOS devices include Badoo, Telegram, and Azar. Similar to video chat websites, these apps are used by millions of people. The most popular video chat app is Badoo, with over 460 million users.
Kids love discovery and novelty. Just as they would visit random neighborhoods in town if they could drive, they love to browse random neighborhoods on the internet if they have access. Get them with their friends and they’re even more reckless and bold. That is why we offer our GKIS Screen Safety Toolkit. Parents told us they felt overwhelmed by the number of parent-management tech options, so we made it easy for you. The GKIS Screen Safety Toolkit is a family-tested, outcome-based resource guide with our best recommendations, how-to information, and links to our favorite easy-to-onboard parental control systems. With the toolkit, you’ll be set to create the custom screen safety toolkit for your unique child. Managing your child’s access is a first step toward protecting them from dangerous choices.
Our parents didn’t have these resources. That’s why we were video chatting with strangers by middle school. When I was thirteen years old, using Omegle and Chatroulette was the fun thing to do. My friends and I would go on during sleepovers and after school hangouts. Occasionally, I would even access it late at night when I was alone in my bedroom.
We did it because it was funny and exciting. We were kids having face-to-face conversations with complete strangers; it was interesting to us. We felt like we were the ones in control, and we always felt relatively safe. Disgustingly, a majority of the random connections would connect us to older males masturbating in front of the webcam. They would continue touching themselves even when they could clearly see just how young we were.
In my personal experiences, whenever a creepy man would be touching himself, my friends and I would quickly hit the skip button in hopes to be connected with a clothed person we could talk to. But there were also times when we would chat with one of those perverts and let them know how disgusting it was.
Now that I’m in my 20s, I realize just how dangerous and repulsive our online experiences were. Luckily, nothing horrible happened to us. But if I or a friend would have shared enough information or decided to meet up with someone we met from Omegle or Chatroulette, it could have been devastating.
Dangers of Video Chatting with Predators
Psychological injury can result from children viewing sexual behaviors or being groomed by predators online. It’s not uncommon for kids to be coerced to reveal identifying information like where they live, where they go to school, and who their friends are. From there, some predators will persuade their victims to meet up in person, which can lead to a number of dangerous possibilities.
Your child interacting with a predator may go unnoticed, but there are a few red flags that you can look out for. For example, your child may be at risk if they
- become secretive about what they were doing online or change screens the minute you walk into the room,
- regularly deletes their browser history or their browser is typically on private browse,
- spend a lot of time on the phone or computer, or
- seem nervous when asked if the parent can check their history or search their phone.
For a more comprehensive list of child red flags, check out our Cybersecurity Red Flag Supplement. Three-tools-in-one, this supplement to your free Connected Family Agreement offers:
Our GKIS CYBERSECURITY SUPPLEMENT – Did you know that kids are the #1 targeted population for identity theft? That’s because the cybercriminal can benefit from fraudulent charges for years before the victim discovers it. Protect your family from hacking, scamming, malware, and phishing with our cybersecurity setup guide and best practices checklist (at home and while traveling).
Our GKIS ONLINE SAFETY RED FLAGS FOR KIDS & TEENS – Parents in my clinical and coaching practices frequently ask me to teach their kids the red flags that may alert them to the tricks of online predators, hate groups, and cyberbullies. I offer you my clinical teaching list so you can educate your kids. Knowledge and assertiveness coaching are key elements of child resilience and good judgment online.
Our GKIS ONLINE SAFETY RED FLAGS FOR PARENTS – Parents need to know the behavioral red flags that may signal their child is suffering a digital injury. This tool teaches parents what child behaviors to look for that may signal they are at risk – a tool I created from 25+ years of clinical practice. Being able to recognize behavioral red flags in your child may be the difference between stopping risk after one exposure versus not recognizing dangerous relationships and exposures until it’s too late.
With parent management tech tools, cybersecurity awareness, child education, and parenting tools to recognize risk, you are far better equipped to block anonymous strangers from predating on your kids.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
Photo by Andrea Piacquido from Pexels
Photo by Julia Cameron from Pexels
 ChatHub. (2020, February 13). Top 12 Sites Like Omegle in 2020 (Ordered by popularity). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://blog.chathub.cam/top-12-sites-like-omegle/