It’s been a while since I posted something about the book I have releasing next May (2016). It was first titled “10 Things Parents Need to Know About Their Kids and Sex” and it’s now “5 Things Parents Need to Know About Their Kids and Sex” – We didn’t take out five things; we just condensed a few similar topics to make it more cohesive for our conversation starters and resources.
[Side note: If you want information about ordering this book when it’s available, just sign up here.]
My friend Crystal helped me research apps and websites of which parents need to be aware, and today I started doing a little more in depth poking around. One website, Omegle.com, was first brought to my attention by a 14 year old girl who I knew used it to chat. It’s in the same arena as the old, Ben Folds famous “ChatRoulette” (he used ChatRoulette in a concert and while most strangers that appeared did so with their faces, as it cycled through, a penis filled the video screen at the concert venue).
You go to the site, are told in the fine print to use it at “your own peril” and that it’s moderated (except for the adult/unmoderated section, which is only a click away from accessing). No login needed. Just a click saying you’re over the age of 13 (no verification process) and BOOM, you are met with a screen to live video chat a stranger. I did my click through and the first image I saw was of a male (I don’t know if he was an adult or not) masturbating.
I logged off quickly and told Tim. I said maybe it was a freak incident, and I’d try again. Tim says, “I don’t want to see some guy’s penis,” and I said, “we shouldn’t. It’s moderated.”
Click. Boom. Penis. Again.
I probably hit refresh (quickly) about five times and of those times, all strangers were male. Only once was I met with a face. The other four times I was greeted by a penis, which is not a very gentlemanly way to greet a stranger.
If this was in the “general” chat section of Omegle, Lord knows what shows up under the Adult/Unmoderated section. I did click on the “Adult” link to see what process it used and it just asked if I was over 18. When I clicked out, a pop up ad for more pornographic webcams filled my screen.
Parents, this is a very popular website (and app) for high schoolers. There’s no way to know who, or what, your child will see even if they click on the 13+ chat.
You need to talk to your kids about this. I know the age-old question of, “What if I bring it up and I only create more curiosity?” You might. But don’t let this be the only conversation you have. Sit down, face to face, let them know the danger in visiting this site, and if you can, block it or filter it with parental controls. Help them understand how we are all created in the image of God and sex is an awesome thing meant to share a sacred love between two married people. Sex is never meant to be solo, or with a stranger.
Here’s an article on Omegle if you want to read more.
The screenshot below was captured in my own research. You can guess what I covered up with the black box.
We CANNOT continue to sweep these awkward, important, necessary conversations under the rug. I am praying for each and every one of you who reads this and needs to have a chat with your kids.
(The photo below is graphic in nature but has been censored. Still, please view at your own discretion. I am not trying to be gratuitous in showing it to you, but I don’t want you to have to look it up on your own or be able to dismiss the reality and severity of the situation. This. Is. Very. Real.)