Parents be warned. The latest fad among teens and pre-teens is “chat roulette”, an online service that randomly matches users in video chats with other users around the world. The service, sure to be imitated, originates from the Chatroulette.com web site is presented as a “game” but is in practice treated more like a “dare” for children to see what sort of deviants might show up in their video chat.
The disclaimer on the home page should give absolutely no comfort to parents:
- You have to be at least 16 years old to use our service
- Chatroulette does not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending, pornographic material and we will have to block users who violate these rules from using our service
- Please use “Report inappropriate video” link to notify us about inappropriate content and we will take necessary steps
The service has no way to verify the age of the user or whether the user has a prior history as a sex offender and other than users “flagging” other users after-the-fact, no way to prevent any particular obscene use of the service. The service permits, for example, 50 year old men from video chatting with 16 year old girls.
BuzzFeed says about the service, “Chat Roulette is quickly becoming the go to site if you want to chat with the most socially depraved people you will ever interact with. It’s mostly dudes masturbating, but every now and then you’ll get a good laugh out of it.”
Fairfield Weekly has a rather explicit description of what users may find on the site: A new-ish online fad, Chat Roulette, randomly links you to webcams all over the world
Talk of the Sound recommendation: block this service from your home and make sure your kids understand that this is not a “game” but a magnet for sexual predators. Talk to your kids friends and make sure the service is blocked at their house too.