herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Parents are warned over 'chat with a stranger' site

PARENTS have expressed concerns about a new website which is proving popular among teens for chatting with strangers.

Omegle.com uses the slogan "talk to strangers" and it allows people of any age to broadcast themselves via webcam to other strangers from around the world.

The National Parents Council post primary body said that parents should be vigilant about such websites.

Spokesperson Jackie O'Callaghan said that while she presumed young children were supervised on the internet, older teens may not be. They may not be aware of the dangers of talking to strangers on the internet.

She said that: "The first thing every parent teaches their baby is don't talk to strangers. The same goes for the internet."

Concerns about the website first emerged when parents phoned the Joan Lea Show on 98FM to warn mothers and fathers around the country about the site.

The discussion was raised on the show after one parent emailed saying that there was no censorship, or anything to protect children on the website. "I've seen my kid on it, and I know all kids know about it, parents need to be warned, please, please go to it and look," he said.

Within minutes of Joan reading out the email, the phones lit up with parents who had caught their children on the site.

The presenter said: "I was absolutely gobsmacked when I logged on to this site. It scares me to think there are kids who could witness this type of thing. It's a warning to parents out there to monitor what their kids are up to online."

Another listener said: "I have a background in IT and every parent should block these types of websites. It's easy to do but parents need to become more aware and less naïve when it comes to the internet."

The website says that: "Chats are completely anonymous, although there is nothing to stop you from revealing personal details if you would like."

fdillon@herald.ie

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