Chatroulette is a new website that allows anyone to connect with random strangers via a webcam and talk or type. The site has become riddled with sexual content and can be potentially dangerous for kids.
The online site uses webcams to connect people from around the world. Users can remain anonymous when they talk or text each other, but it’s also connecting children to online predators.
What’s so concerning about this website is how easy it is for anyone to use. All you need is a webcam and you’re good to go. We warn you some of these images may be disturbing.
Chatroulette may sound like a harmless game, until you look closer. Using a webcam, the online site matches you up with random strangers. If you don’t like what you see or get bored with the conversation, just click to move on to the next random person.
“You have no control over who it is you’re being paired up with. You have no control over the content that’s being sent to you,” said Stephen Best with the Santa Maria Police Department.
“That’s kind of interesting. We have webcams on the laptops,” said Tammra Baez, a Santa Maria parent.
After 15 minutes on the site, we found tons of sexual content. Most of the users seem to be men and some of the images are downright disgusting. The website says you must be at least 16 to log on and lays down some ground rules, but there is no registration or enforcement. It’s up to parents.
“You need to discuss with your kids the dangers of online predators, just like you do discussing with your kids about meeting strangers in the park,” Best said.
Parents we spoke with hadn’t heard about Chatroulette but say they already keep a close eye on their kids.
“His access to the computer is strictly limited. He’s not allowed to go on without asking first,” said Robert Martin of Santa Maria.
“I know her password and everything, so I can go in there and monitor it,” Baez said.
The website gets more than 1.5 million hits daily. Santa Maria police say similar sites have already popped up for college students and singles.
One woman said she used to be afraid to let her kids outside unsupervised. Now, she has to worry about what they do indoors as well.
The Chatroulette website was developed by a 17-year-old from Russia.
Police do have some additional internet safety tips.
Make sure you set rules for how your kids use the internet.
Put the computer in a common room.
If just talking to your kids isn’t working, consider installing monitoring software and report any offensive material to the website and police.