Dangerous Chat Room Attracting Young Kids

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- If you think you have your youngsters protected on the Internet - think again.

With summer vacation here kids may be spending more unsupervised time on the computer surfing the web.  A St. Louis-area foster parent learned about a risky web site that is attracting kids as young as 11 years of age.  She told her case worker who alerted FOX 2.

The "Omegle" web site allows strangers to chat without any censorship.  It's a worldwide platform that allows web cam communication as well as texting.  Foster care social worker Kelly Connelly checked out the web site and immediately found "scary" conversations.  

"I clicked on it and started talking to someone and before I knew it I had some guy who claimed to be 20 years old, when I made it clear I was 14, wanting to see pictures of me," Connelly said Wednesday.   "He wanted to talk to me about inappropriate things all having to do with sex," she added.

High school and college students are warned to be cautious about Internet connections and posting personal photos and information online.  But Connelly said her experience shows younger students have no idea how dangerous the Internet can be.  

Strangers can urge others in the chat room to reveal their Facebook page.  Then the stranger can find out where they go to school, the town they live in and other personal information that may be posted.

"It could be another neighborhood kid. It could be someone in the Ukraine. It could be the next door neighbor that you think is 14 years old and he's actually a 50-year-old pedophile using this new technology to stalk you," said Connelly.   She is urging parents to "keep a short leash" on their children and carefully monitor their Internet use on both computers and cell phones.

"It is so scary how fast these kids pick up on this technology and how easy it is for them to get it," Connelly added.