Are You Hearing Voices?By
Don’t be surprised if you soon start hearing strange voices coming from your teenie’s bedroom. But don’t dismiss it either, chances are those voices can hear -and maybe see- everything that you’re doing. Thanks to a new technology offered by Oovoo.com, kids now have free access to a live video chat party line. Initially designed for virtual meetings in the business world, Oovoo decided to provide open access to the live chat service.
Since then, the service has blurred the lines between video conferencing software, and social networking. You don’t need an Oovoo account to use the service, as friends can invite you to join their virtual chatroom at any time. Its as simple as clicking a link. We must admit, the technology is cool, and potentially useful. But similar to facebook friend requests, most teen recipients are highly likely to accept these invitations, whether they know the sender or not.
It also raises some issues that parents need to give some thought to. To begin with, Oovoo requires you to have an active video camera and microphone on your computer to join the chat. This means that while engaged, your teen’s computer is broadcasting a live feed from your home, to the world wide web. A potentially diverse group of recipients can therefore see and hear anything that falls within the range of the computer. So think twice before barging into your kids room while sporting those curlers, and definitely choose your words wisely when within range of their laptops. (If your child is using earphones, you may mistakenly think that they’re on the phone, meanwhile the computer microphone and camera are catching everything in range.)
Secondly, Oovoo can be abused in ways similar to those common to other social networking sites. It provides another dimension for cyber-bullying and virtual harassment. It also incorporates new avenues for peer pressure and provides an opportunity for momentary indiscretions to turn into life long saga’s – that’s right, its easy for anyone watching or listening to record the full content of what is being transmitted from your kids computer. A little “show and tell” can quickly make your little teenie the most talked about kid in town.
No need to fear this new technology, but parents should certainly take the opportunity to discuss the ways in which it should be used. An ounce of prevention on your part can ensure years of clean, harmless, high-tech fun for your teen.