With a working web cam and the click of button, teens now have the entire world at their fingertips, the virtual world anyway. With websites like Skype, Chat Roulette and iChat, people everywhere are signing on to chat with friends, family and often strangers. This phenomenon has overtaken Carlsbad High School as students are video chatting more than ever.
Sites like Chat roulette and StickCam hold the most potential dangers to teens, and have become some of the most popular. On Chat Roulette users are randomly matched with other users from anywhere in the world.
The site lacks censorship and students often find themselves in uncomfortable and inappropriate situations. Aside from some unwanted nudity on the site, some students see Chat Roulette as something of a joke.
Senior Lindsay Hirata doesn’t see anything wrong with going on Chat Roulette and Stick Cam for some entertainment.
“It’s just something to do when your bored,” Hirata said. “It’s fun to talk to people you don’t know. I’ve talked to people from Germany and Italy and they’re all really funny.”
Similar to Chat Roulette, StickCam lets users start chat rooms that anyone can join just to watch. Users aim to have the most viewed chat rooms. On this site, teens expose themselves to anyone who wants to see them, and obviously not everyone online can be trusted. Still, many students insist that as long as the communication stays online, it’s okay.
“I’m not worried about online predators. Getting away from predators or bullying is only a click away,” Senior David Mills said. “Basically you’re just on [Chat Roulette] waiting to see a cute girl, but it never happens.”
Much more widely accepted than some sites, Skype and iChat serve as a more private way to chat in real time online. Skype and iChat both allow the user to choose who they webcam with and keep chatrooms free of strangers. Still, completely privacy isn’t a guarantee. On Skype, if users accidentally click the “smiley face” icon their chat room opens up to anyone who wants to see it online.
Senior Lauren Romero utilizes these resources to stay in contact with people see wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
“I go on iChat like every night,” Senior Lauren Romero said. “I talk to my best friends and family that lives out of state.”
Basically, it comes down to weighing the potential risks of video chatting versus the enjoyment of chatting with friends online. As a rule thumb, assume nothing on the internet is private, and never engage in anything online you wouldn’t want your grandma or potential employers and colleges to see. Teens need to remember that they choose how much information they broadcast online and what they withhold.