Last week, I gave a talk at the middle school about what apps and sites are popular with kids. Last year I spent most of my time talking about Facebook, not this year. Kids are moving off Facebook to other sites. My talk focused on the big 5 sites but I also mentioned a few up and comers. One site, I am hearing a lot about is Omegle.
Omegle pairs up random strangers for a chat. Everyone is anonymous. On Omegle, you are identified as “YOU” and everyone else is “STRANGER”. Kids can chat with a stranger either via text or video. To kick off the conversation, they can ask a question or type in an interest. Based on this information, Omegle will pick a stranger for you. Kids can also allow Omegle to use their Facebook likes to find a compatible stranger. Once paired up, you and the stranger chat until someone chooses to disconnect. After chatting, kids can post or save their chat or just move on to a new stranger. Omegle is available as an app or on the desktop. Currently, the app only allows for conversations via text. On its website, kids can video chat or text.
I tried out Omegle. All of my chats began with “hi” or “hello” then some form of ASL – Age, Sex, Location. Depending on my response, the stranger either disconnected or asked for more information.
I tried adding a few interests and asking a question. I had the same conversation regardless of my question or my interests. I did not find anyone willing to have a non-sexual chat. Continue reading
This week I am guest blogger for CSID. CSID is a leading provider of global, enterprise level identity protection and fraud detection solutions and technologies.They recently published a study on Child Identity Theft: A Parenting Blind Spot.
5 Pieces of Information Kids Should Not Share Online
When I talk to my kids about what not to post online, I focus primarily on information that would allow a stranger to contact them. Their information is also valuable to identity thieves. Thieves search kids’ social media accounts looking for personal information. They use their information to open fraudulent accounts or attain pieces of ID such as a driver’s license. With a child’s information, they often can impersonate them for years without being detected. According to a study by CyLab at Carnegie Mellon, identity theft is 51 times more likely with children than adults.
Recently, CSID conducted a survey to find out what parents know about child identity theft. The survey found that most parents do talk to their kids about sharing information online and, like me, they do so because of concern about their child sharing information online with strangers. Only 18% of parents were concerned with identity theft, however, and although concerned, most (52%) are not taking action to protect their children’s information. The survey found that when parents are aware of the issue they want to take action, but don’t know what to do or where to begin.
This rainy spring break, we played lots of board games. There are so many great board games: Monopoly, Risk, Sorry, Scattergories… Regardless of age, everyone enjoys playing these games. I am always on the lookout for an online game we can all play together. In the digital world, it is tough to find a family game.
Most online games either appeal to really young kids or the over 13 crowd. The games that are safe for younger kids, my older children find boring. When I check out the older games and see the chat window and the questionable ads, I am just not comfortable letting my youngest on. Thankfully, I finally found a game that is safe and we all want to play – The Flying Alphabetinis.
The Flying Alphabetinis by Fingerprint is a social gaming app that everyone can play. My oldest best described it as Scramble with Friends for kids. I would describe it as digital Boggle. Family members and friends play against each other to see who can find the most words. Everything kids love about social games is still included. They can challenge each other and send messages in a safe (not boring) environment.
A few weeks ago, I got a chance to talk with Nancy MacIntyre the CEO of Fingerprint about designing games for the entire family. She acknowledged, “it’s a constant challenge from a game design perspective – providing a good play experience, but keeping it safe.” Fingerprint meets this challenge by first making a fun game. Then, they develop their games with the overriding principle of no personal data collected, ever. They also have help from over 50 moms, 200 kids, 400 hours of play testing, and 1500 families in Canada playing the game plus many, many hours with legal experts on COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). Continue reading