Skype, ooVoo and iChat have become a phenomenon for those who like to video chat with their families and friends while away at school or across seas studying abroad. These video chat programs are also used in talk shows for the watchers to call in and speak directly to the hosts of the show.
The newest addition to these programs is a video chat Web site called Chatroulette. For those of you who are not acquainted with this Web site yet, I’ll give you a quick background on it. ChatRoulette.com allows those who have video cameras to chat with anyone, and I mean anyone, around the whole world. You don’t have to have an account with the Web site; it is open for all and free. If you don’t have a webcam you can still access the Web site but those who you are chatting with will not be able to see you or hear, you can only see and hear them.
When entering the ChatRoulette Web site, there are terms of service instructions on the right hand side. The first instructions read, “You have to be at least 16 years old to use our service.” The second set of instructions state, “ChatRoulette does not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending pornographic material and we will have to block users who violate these rules from using our service.” They also state that when something is reported they will take necessary steps to stop those making inappropriate videos. Once you click the “start” button, you webcam automatically turns on and there you are staring at some stranger, and they are looking right back at you. You can either stay on with that person or keep clicking next. You have a possbility of endless choices of who to talk to.
When I was first introduced to this Web site I thought the concept of it was pretty interesting, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. My roommates and I were getting a good laugh at some of the people we ended up talking to. When I heard that there are some strange people out in the world, no one was kidding when they said that. I could not believe some of the things we came across while being on ChatRoulette. Some of the people you come across can actually be fun to talk to and others are just straight up creepy. I could go on for hours and talk about some of the things we came across but this Web site is just so surreal.
I understand that this Web site is fairly new to the internet, but something must be done with controlling who can access the chat room and what can be displayed over the camera. The first rule specifically states that you must be 16 or older, but how do the owners of the Web site know this? They don’t. There is no way of telling if a couple of 13-year-old boys and girls are doing on ChatRoulette, unless someone reports it. I couldn’t even tell you how many little kids we saw over video camera. It is scary to know that anyone who has access to a web cam also has access to ChatRoulette. Majority of computers these days come with video cameras especially Apple computers. ChatRoulette is just another web fad that will eventually die overtime.
When Facebook first came out, everyone was addicted, but over time it has begun to become very old. We are going to hear about ChatRoulette for quite a while, until a higher authority comes along and makes many changes to the Web site. If you decide to take part in ChatRoulette, brace yourselves for what you will come across; just have an open mind!