Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Icky new social networking sites...beware!

I read a letter today from a local district attorney's office notifying the professional community that works with teens about two websites that teens seem to have found that opens a can of worms definitely left unopened. The first is OMEGLE.COM and the second, CHATROULETTE.COM. Both not only have a tremendous ICK factor, but can be dangerous as well. They are sites and chat rooms that resemble regular on-line chat rooms but now use the added attraction of live video. So basically there is no screening involved and anyone can just click on the site, and you are on stage live and in person. A parent I know wanted to check it out after she heard about it, and it was only seconds after she signed on when someone's video came up and said HI, where are you? She freaked and signed off immediately. But then, she is a responsible, thinking, sane adult. A teen, not so much. I had heard about chatroulette before from a parent with a 19 year old son who was home for college break. Walking into his room one evening to say goodnight, she found him having video sex with some naked strange girl on his computer. Ick, right?????

I am sure that many of your teens already know about this site. These things spread like wildflower, and it only takes 1 kid who has heard about it to bring it up on his/her laptop while friends are over, and it is off to the races, so to speak. I am imagining that teens see this as a fun party game. As in;" hey lets go on chatroulette and check out the guys/girls. There is tons of nudity and perverse sexual behavior for their titillating pleasure. There might be some teens, feeling social awkward, needy of attention or just plain horny, who might start to access this site on a regular basis in lieu of actual human contact. This is both psychologically unhealthy and might potentially put them in contact with people who could take advantage of them in the future. The parent who found her son on this site was actually in a "relationship" with this underage girl. He was 19 and was planning to visit her in the summer half way across the country, in a part of the country where the term "shotgun wedding" means shotgun. Huge worry that this young man could have been charged with statutory rape. Scary stuff.  Another smart parent remarked that once the image is online it can be reproduced and there you have pornography in the making. We are not just talking about still shots here but actual video potential.

Have I grossed you out enough? Think of this as just another teaching moment. You might say: 'Have you heard about these new sites....... They sound so scary and dangerous to me. Such potential for teens to be taken advantage of by skanky people. If you know anybody who goes on these sites, you should really warn them. I get how kids might be attracted to sites like this, all kinky and weird, but there are real sexual perverts who live on these sites who are good at tracking people down they find enticing. Really dangerous and scary." Put the fear of Satan in them.

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