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Darlington Early Help Team have had a number of reports lately about primary aged children using random video chat apps that allow users to video chat with strangers. In all of these cases children have been chatting to adult males who ask for personal information and in some cases they have seen an adult expose themselves. 

Random Video Chat Apps –

Random video chat apps that allow you to talk to strangers anonymously are gaining popularity and a simple search through the Google and Apple stores reveals too many apps to list here. Along with this growth in random chat apps we are seeing a rise In young children using them. Apps such as Omegle, Monkey, Holla, MeowChat and Chatspin all allow you to randomly chat to strangers. Sign up is easy and in general you don’t have to register your details, just add a username and away you go. A lot of these apps have a rating of 18+ on the app stores but we are now starting to see these type of apps being made for children with age ratings of 3 years plus. While some of these allow parental supervision to monitor who your child talks to they still encourage children to video chat to strangers with the view of making new friends. These apps also introduce and normalises the practice of random video chat apps at very early age.

While we can see the attraction of making new friends online for many children and young people especially if your someone who struggles to make friends face to face we find it hard to recommend random video chat apps. We have had numerous reports from parents, schools, children and young people who tell us about a number of incidents of children being exposed to sexually explicit chat and behaviour as well as requests for personal information and being threatened and scared as a result of using these types of apps.

Awareness needs to be raised around the risks and dangers of using these types of apps and for the potential of children being exposed to sexually explicit content such as other users exposing themselves and performing sex acts on themselves or on others on camera. Parental supervision and controls are a must as well as encouraging children and young people to report anything that’s makes them uncomfortable, worried or scared to an adult.