What is Omegle? What parents need to know

Image from Omegle show it closed.

Omegle is permanently closed as of November 2023.

Launched in March 2009, Omegle was a ‘virtual chat room’ offering random users unmoderated or moderated chats with one another from anywhere in the world.

What is Omegle?

Omegle is one of the more popular video chat sites available online. It pairs random users identified as ‘You’ and ‘Stranger’ to chat online via ‘Text’, ‘Video’ or both.

A user can also choose to add their interests, and Omegle will try to pair a user with someone who has similar interests. If not, you could meet anyone. Chats are anonymous unless the user states who they are. It’s free and no account sign up is required.

There are many imitation apps such as ‘Chat for Omegle’, ‘Free Omegle Chat’ and ‘Omeglers’, but there is no longer an official Omegle app. All sites and apps appear to share the same features and purpose, but only some are linked to Omegle. As such, parents and carers should check to see which apps kids have got installed on their phones and the risks presented with each.

The Omegle website is now closed.

What happened to Omegle?

Omegle is permanently closed. In an open letter to users on the Omegle home screen, founder Leif K-Brooks explained the decision. In summary, he explained the following points as reasons for shutting down Omegle.

  • misuse of the platform, including “to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”
  • the “never-ending battle” of moderation and fighting such crimes.
  • attacks directed at the platform. K-Brooks said, “the only way to please these people [attacking the platform] is to stop offering the service.” He also explains that these attacks lead to widespread fear, which wasn’t what he intended Omegle to do.
  • stress and expenses from fighting to keep Omegle running safely and positively.

The decision came shortly after the Online Safety Act became law in the UK. This law will require platforms to enhance safety features for under-18s.

Who uses Omegle?

Like most social media sites, Omegle has a minimum age rating of 13 years with parental permission. Without parental permission, users must be 18 years or older.

Omegle is particularly popular in the US, UK, India and Mexico. It is also extremely popular among children and young people because a lot of social media influencers use and post about it. For example, the #omegle hashtag has approximately 5 billion views on TikTok.

Is Omegle safe?

Risk of sharing or viewing inappropriate content

Omegle does not appear to have powerful moderation. It also does not require registration or have age verification, which makes young people a potential target for abuse online. Its site states “predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.”

Children and young people may be asked by strangers to share their name, age and location. So, it’s also important to talk to your child about sharing personal information online with strangers.

A BBC investigation found sexually explicit videos and live streams involving minors as young as 7 or 8 which spread across the site during the Covid-19 pandemic. BBC alerted the relevant authorities. However, there is still a risk of users unexpectedly coming across pornography and other types of inappropriate content.

According to the BBC’s investigation, schools, police forces and governments have issued warnings about Omegle in the UK, US, France, Norway, Canada and Australia. There were also investigations into online child abuse on Omegle along with reports of racism, extremist views, scams and cyberbullying.

Lack of moderation on video chat

The video chat has an adult, moderated and unmoderated option that can be easily accessible by underage users. Clicking the button, the users will be directly on live video and text chat, without warning which unfortunately allows for children to be easily exposed to inappropriate content in a matter of seconds.

Additionally, the video chat opens up the possibility for footage to be recorded and distributed without the user’s consent. This may be a leading contributor to a growth in searches for Omegle porn videos.

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Types of chat options:

  • Adult – anyone can access this, which contains heavily explicit content and pornographic acts. The user only needs to confirm by clicking a button then they’re redirected to an external site
  • Moderated chat – according to Omegle’s disclaimer, they moderate chats and say “… moderation is not perfect. You may still encounter people who misbehave.” However, they do not state how it does this effectively or how frequently
  • Unmoderated chat – this option comes with a warning box advising the user they need to be 18+, but an underage user can easily click ‘OK’ to enter. Users are highly likely to encounter risks such as online grooming along with sexually explicit and violent content

Anonymous text chat

The text chat has a ‘spy’ function where users can be the ‘spy’ and log on as a hidden 3rd party in a text chat between two people.

The ‘spy’ can then ask the other two users to discuss a particular topic/question and view their replies. Alternatively, a user can be the participant and discuss the question with another user.

A ‘spy’ can exit without ending the chat between the other two users.

Common workarounds and searches

As is the case with any blocked website or app, children may try to find alternatives. So, it’s important to have conversations about why sites like Omegle are blocked and how this helps keep them safe. Many Omegle alternatives may lead to cyber attacks, risk of online harm and more if accessed.

Still, popular searches that may come from young people include ‘Omegle unblocked’ as well as ‘How to get unbanned from Omegle’, which may have resulted from misuse of the platform or underage access.

Omegle alternatives to watch out for

There are other platforms and apps that teens might try to use if Omegle is blocked in their browser. They may also use these apps thinking they are Omegle itself. See some of the more common apps like Omegle below to help you stay aware of your child’s online activity.

Copycat websites

Check for misleading Omegle URLs

Some potentially harmful copycat web-based versions of Omegle exist and show up in web search results.

Some of these URLs may bypass browsers or broadband networks that block the original website. As such, when a user searches for ‘Omegle’ on a search engine that blocks the site, these copycat URLs may show up in its place.

While the domain looks like it is Omegle.com, the domain extension (where ‘.com’ should be) is different from the official website.

Watch out for websites that pretend to be Omegle

Additionally, these Omegle copycats may lead to security threats of malware or other cyber attacks, so it’s important children know not to click on unfamiliar links.

The official website it Omegle.com, not any alternatives.


What is Tinychat?

Tinychat is an online chatroom that lets users chat via instant messaging, voice chat or video chat. Unlike Omegle, users can choose a chatroom to join to talk with people of similar interests. Users must be 18+ but no age verification process exists to stop younger users.

If your child is looking for online communities, encourage them to use safe message boards on websites like Childline and Ditch the Label. Or, if your child needs support related to LGBTQ+ questions or identity, see guidance and suggestions here.


Chatrandom shows up in different forms. These include:

A misleading Omegle link

This website is disguised to look like it might belong to Omegle. However, the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages show inconsistencies with the original page. Additionally, the links, layout and content all aim to mislead users.

If a user searches ‘Omegle’ or ‘Chatrandom’ through a search engine that blocks the original, this misleading link may show up in the search results.

Learn how to spot different types of misleading content with our guide to fake news and misinformation.

A downloadable app

Chatrandom is a website that works similarly to Omegle and is also downloadable on mobile. Like Omegle, it is for users 18 and over. It also includes guidance in its terms against sexually explicit content. However, users may still be at risk of seeing inappropriate or pornographic content. Children should not use Chatrandom.


What is Chatroulette?

Chatroulette is very similar to Omegle with both being launched in the same year. Just like Omegle, users risk exposure to inappropriate and pornographic content. It is also intended for users over 18.

Copycat websites

Chatroulette.com is the official website. However, many copycats exist with different domain extensions (instead of .com, they will have something like .io) just like with Omegle. These may bypass parental controls you have set, so it’s important to discuss the dangers with children.

The random pairing of video chat with strangers can leave them open to risks like inappropriate content, abuse, grooming, porn and more.


YouNow is a web app that shares similarities with Omegle, YouTube and Yubo.

What is YouNow?

YouNow is a platform that encourages users to interact with followers, meet new people and chat about a range of topics. Users are encouraged to go live and broadcast their content to a range of users.

YouNow age requirements

Users on YouNow must be at least 13-years-old with parent supervision. Otherwise, they must be 18+.

Safety concerns

  • unpredictability of live broadcasts: while YouNow has Community Guidelines that warn against sexually explicit or violent content, harassment and hate speech and encouraging dangerous behaviour, the very nature of live streaming leaves users open to risk of all these things.
  • no age restrictions around live broadcasts: YouNow does not seem to have restrictions on what age users must be to broadcast live. Some apps like TikTok, on the other hand, require users to be at least 18-years-old to livestream to promote safety of minors.

Learn more about social media and how to keep your child safe with the Social Media Advice Hub.


What is Monkey?

Monkey is a video chat app that, like Yubo, encourages users to make friends. Like Omegle, it is for users over the age of 18 but does not have any age verification processes. As such, there are many reports of minors on the Monkey app producing or participating in inappropriate content.

Unlike Omegle, Monkey requires users to sign up to keep track of their conversations and the people they chatted with. As soon as a user has an account, they can start chatting to strangers.

Apps like Monkey

Monkey is for solo users but also links to Duo, which allows users to invite their friends to the chat via a link. Monkey also promotes a Group version called Three and a Global version called Hay.

Does Omegle have any parental controls?

Although there are prompts to encourage the safe use of the platform, Omegle does not have any parental controls.

According to Omegle, they monitor conversations, but despite stating ‘video is monitored, keep it clean’, children and young people visiting this section are likely to encounter numerous other users engaging in sexually explicit chat and activity putting them at risk.

There are no instructions on how a user can report other users or content, even though Omegle’s disclaimer advises that users can. There is also no block or mute feature either nor is there a robust enough system of monitoring or filtering video/text chats, so it’s important to enable parental controls on their phone and/or your home broadband.

In addition to the potential online risks, parents should also be aware of the danger of these conversations moving from Omegle to other platforms, or from online to offline, and potential meetups.

It’s important to understand that Omegle connects kids with strangers of any age, so we would advise parents to consider restricting the use of the platform for children under 18.

Ways of keeping children safe online

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