All About Cookies is an independent, advertising-supported website. Some of the offers that appear on this site are from third-party advertisers from which All About Cookies receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear).
All About Cookies does not include all financial or credit offers that might be available to consumers nor do we include all companies or all available products. Information is accurate as of the publishing date and has not been provided or endorsed by the advertiser.
The All About Cookies editorial team strives to provide accurate, in-depth information and reviews to help you, our reader, make online privacy decisions with confidence. Here's what you can expect from us:
- All About Cookies makes money when you click the links on our site to some of the products and offers that we mention. These partnerships do not influence our opinions or recommendations. Read more about how we make money.
- Partners are not able to review or request changes to our content except for compliance reasons.
- We aim to make sure everything on our site is up-to-date and accurate as of the publishing date, but we cannot guarantee we haven't missed something. It's your responsibility to double-check all information before making any decision. If you spot something that looks wrong, please let us know.
Omegle is an anonymous chat website that’s been around since 2009. It skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic while everyone was home. However, Omegle is unsafe for kids because it’s free, has no registration, and there’s no age registration to use the site.
In this article, we'll explain what Omegle is, highlight the risks it poses to kids, and offer valuable tips on how to keep your children safe online (including the best antivirus software with parental controls).
What are the risks of using Omegle?
How to keep your kids safe online
Omegle safety FAQs
What is Omegle?
Omegle, an online chat platform, was created in 2009 by American Leif K-Brooks. Omegle quickly became popular because it offered a fresh and exciting way to meet new people. Users are instantly paired with a random stranger for a text chat or video chat session when they visit the platform. Omegle’s complete anonymity is the most significant allure to its site.
Sounds harmless, right? Hardly. Omegle is flawed way beyond a poor user experience — its impact is far more sinister than that.
What are the risks of using Omegle?
Omegle’s anonymous nature is a breeding ground for crimes against children. The website lacks age verification and parental controls, creating a risky environment for young users.
Omegle’s landing page says, “Omegle video chat is moderated, but no moderation is perfect. Users are solely responsible for their behavior while using Omegle.” Omegle also has an unmoderated section, but all it requires is that users check a box to confirm they’re 18 or older to use it.
While Omegle’s Community Guidelines state that inappropriate conduct and content are not allowed and can result in bans, they’re rarely enforced.
Omegle has five significant risks on its platform: online predators, exposure to explicit content, malware, exposure to extremism, and cyberbullying.
Did you know that a child is sexually assaulted in the United States every 9 minutes? This has been exacerbated by the explosion of online chat sites, including Omegle. In 2021, the BBC launched an investigation into Omegle. Over the 10 hours the BBC spent on Omegle, investigators were paired with dozens of minors as young as 7.
Omegle’s predator problem is so serious that it’s facing a class-action lawsuit. In A.M. v. Omegle.com LLC, an American woman sued Omegle for $22 million, saying that Omegle paired her with a man in his 30s from Manitoba, who abused her for years. According to Bloomberg, the lawsuit claims Omegle is “a defectively designed product that failed to restrict access to children or ban known predatory users.” In the same case, Omegle was also accused of earning revenue by engaging in sex trafficking.
Exposure to explicit content
Children seeing things they shouldn’t see is almost a rite of passage on Omegle. One of our content contributors can attest to this. She vividly remembers using Omegle with a friend when she was 16.
Immediately after logging on to the platform, both teens witnessed a man performing lewd acts on himself. As the pair continued to use Omegle that evening, they saw more inappropriate content. The girls were also obviously underage, but the people online didn't seem to care. Ultimately, our contributor never touched Omegle again.
The BBC had a similar experience exploring Omegle for the first time. In the 2021 BBC investigation, the BBC saw multiple instances of abusive material in just 2 hours. According to one American teen interviewed by the BBC about Omegle, "Men being gross is something I and my friends see a lot. It should be better monitored. It's like the dark web but for everyone."
Just as the distribution of illicit material is rampant on the dark web, it’s also happening on the Omegle platform. Preteens and teenagers regularly expose themselves on Omegle, creating self-generated abusive content. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) — an English nonprofit dedicated to removing child abuse material online — said it found “self-generated abuse material elsewhere on the internet which has been created by predators who have captured and distributed footage from Omegle.”
Omegle can also be risky due to various cybersecurity concerns. Although Omegle's official website is not designed to transmit malware and computer viruses, users on the platform can share links in chat rooms. Scammers and hackers can exploit this system to redirect individuals to phishing websites or prompt them to download malware onto their devices.
Sadly, hacking is all too common as well. Videos, messages, and metadata collected by Omegle, including text logs, IP addresses, timestamps, and video screenshots for moderation purposes, can be illicitly accessed and employed for committing online crimes against users.
In addition, storing chat logs on Omegle's servers poses the risk of data leaks and breaches, which could result in users' personal data, photos, and videos being sold on the dark web.
Exposure to extremism
Another concerning event taking place on Omegle is extremism. Supporters of hate speech and extremism have taken to Omegle to spread racism, homophobia, and xenophobia. For example, in 2020, NBC ran a story called “Racism is rampant on Omegle. Teens are working to hold racist trolls accountable.” Two teenagers recorded their experiences on Omegle to show the racism, homophobia, and antisemitism they encountered on the platform. One incident involved a masked man telling the two teens a racist riddle. Another video shows a mashup of xenophobic and racist slurs.
This is not surprising, given Omegle’s reputation for hosting harmful content. University of Southern California’s Allissa V. Richardson, Assistant Professor of Journalism, describes Omegle as the “Wild West” of the internet. “I think these kinds of racist incidents have occurred since the inception of Omegle, but… social media then allows [people] to amplify the abuse in ways we couldn't do before,” explains Richardson.
Another danger on Omegle is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that happens digitally through phones, computers, or tablets. It includes name-calling, spreading lies, sending inappropriate pictures, making threats, and sharing explicit photos without permission.
Cyberbullying severely affects young people's mental health and wellbeing. They can develop low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, face family problems, struggle academically, engage in delinquent behaviors, suffer physical symptoms, and experience suicidal thoughts or attempts. A 2022 Pew Research study shows that 50% of teens aged 13 to 17 report being bullied or harassed online, and further research shows that students who have experienced cyberbullying are twice as likely to attempt suicide.
TikTok, another popular platform among teens, comes with its own threats. Discriminatory and extremist content is prevalent on TikTok. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) reveals that 30% of the TikTok videos they analyzed promoted white supremacy and 24% supported extremism. ISIS propaganda and Holocaust denial are also featured on TikTok.
As for data privacy concerns, TikTok is now paying the price for its lax policies. On September 15, 2023, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined TikTok €368 million for not safeguarding kids' privacy.
Tired of dealing with issues stemming from TikTok? Check out our guide to making TikTok safe for kids.
How to keep your kids safe online
Ensuring your children's online safety requires proactive measures. Luckily, there are many resources on how to stay safe online, especially for your kids.
Here are some tips to keep your kids safe while using Omegle and other online platforms:
- Use a VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) can help mask your child's IP address, adding an extra layer of privacy and security. Some of the best VPNs include NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN.
- Invest in parental control software: Parental controls allow you to monitor your child's online activities and set website restrictions. Some big names in parental control software include Bark and Norton Family. There are also identity theft protection services with parental controls, including Aura.
- Choose antivirus software with parental controls: Opt for antivirus programs with parental control features to protect your child from harmful imagery and potential threats. We highly recommend McAfee, Norton 360, and Avast.
- Engage in cybersecurity education: Educate your children about online safety, including the importance of not sharing personal information and recognizing online dangers. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has compiled a list of resources for cybersecurity awareness. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) lists similar resources to help parents and kids. The FBI even created a course for children to learn about internet safety.
- Block Omegle: There are no direct parental controls for Omegle. You must use third-party parental control software to block Omegle on your child’s devices.
Any combination of these tactics (or, better yet, all) will decrease your child’s likelihood of being victimized on sites like Omegle.
Best antivirus software with parental controls
We’ve reviewed several programs on the market and highly recommend these three antivirus software that include parental controls:
- McAfee Antivirus: McAfee's antivirus offers parental controls, including location alerts, screen management, and content restrictions. With McAfee+, you get identity theft protection for children, which includes monitoring for up to four children, data removal requests from data broker sites, and provides access to identity restoration experts.
- Norton 360 Antivirus: Norton’s parental controls, known as Norton Family, provide insights into search terms and viewed videos, allows monitoring of age-appropriate content, sets screen time limits, and offers a School Time feature to reduce online distractions. Parents can access these features through mobile apps or web browsers.
- Avast Antivirus: Avast’s Family Protection parental controls include screen-time limits, content filters, and location features. The best part about Avast is that the basic level is free. You can upgrade to a paid plan based on your security needs.
- All-in-one protection for your personal info and privacy
- Excellent antivirus protection
- Additional features like a file shredder and parental controls
- Multiple pop-ups for text notifications can be annoying
Omegle safety FAQs
Can Omegle track you?
Yes, Omegle can save your text and video chat history and share your personal information with service providers and law enforcement. People can track your location through links using an internet protocol (IP) grabber, freely available online.
Is Omegle safe or dangerous?
Omegle is dangerous due to the risks of online predators, exposure to explicit content, malware, exposure to extremism, and cyberbullying. We do not recommend Omegle for anyone under 18.
Should I avoid Omegle?
You can use Omegle at your own risk, but we recommend anyone below 18 avoiding the site. Chief Parenting Officer Titania Jordan of parental control app Bark put it best on LinkedIn: "I don't know of any parent who wants their kid to talk to strangers.”
What are the best Omegle alternatives?
Here are three safe choices you can suggest to your kids instead of Omegle:
- KidsChat: This site has text-based chat rooms for kids aged 13 and up. Unlike Omegle, users can choose who they chat with privately instead of getting matched randomly. They also have administrators and moderators regularly in the chat rooms.
- 321 Chat: 321 Chat is for older teens. They have a variety of demographic-specific chat rooms. 321 Chat uses volunteer moderators to enforce chat rules. This platform openly works with law enforcement to address unsafe material and activity.
- Kidzworld: Kidzworld is a platform for young children and teens, including a free chat room. Kids need to register before they can chat. They use live moderators and AI to keep their chats safe. Kidzworld also complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a U.S. law that protects the online privacy of children under 13.
Omegle is riddled with safety concerns for children and teens. Its anonymous design, lack of moderation, and failure to address its flaws reveal a platform prioritizing profit over child protection.
Due to the many risks of using Omegle, we strongly recommend antivirus, a VPN, and parental controls to protect your kids online. If your children still want to chat on the internet, there are safer alternatives than Omegle, such as KidsChat, 321 Chat, and KidzWorld.
We hope you never have to report a crime, but if you do, the U.S. Department of Justice details how to do so. You can also report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline.
If you stay informed, follow these tips, and implement the right software, your kids will be far safer online than the average child. For VPN recommendations, check out our guide to the best VPNs to better protect your kids' internet experience.
 Teens and Cyberbullying 2022