30-year-old Tyler Simkus Smither stands accused of allegedly using the cam chat site Omegle in order to obtain explicit pictures of an 11-year-old boy that he met through the website. Smither is said to be a youth minister at a church in New Hanover County, while the victim lives in Florida. After the two met on Omegle they eventually took their conversations to other platforms like Skype and text messaging. The victim’s mother was contacted by her cell phone carrier as they told her that her son was receiving texts from a new number. This led her to find explicit photos of both her son and Smither on her son’s cell phone.
I commend the victim’s mother for having the option on her son’s cell phone to be notified of strangers contacting her son. However, Omegle is a very old school site that can escape the notice of parents. It’s not an app so parents can’t look for that on a phone. It’s just a website that connects two strangers that happen to be on a camera enabled device. All you need to connect on Omegle is a device with a camera and an internet connection. It could either be a data connection on a cellphone or through an internet or wifi connection. While Omegle does make the occasional report of improper behavior with kids to the NCMEC they don’t do a whole lot to discourage this behavior outside of posting a warning that predators use their site. If websites had parents they would be so proud of them. I think it goes without saying that Omegle is no website for an 11-year-old boy.