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Meeting strangers

By Paige Hastings on 03 Mar, 2015

Originating with Chatroulette (a website that randomly pairs its users to have a webcam-based chat), there is now a growing trend towards apps that bring strangers together.

Wakie is one of these apps.  It offers people the opportunity to get rid of their traditional alarm clocks as instead you are woken up by another randomly selected user by a method of their choice and then when you are awake, you can do the same to others.  For the waking up process, you are given a one-minute time frame in which some users choose to wack saucepans, sing songs, or shout down the phone.  In an interview with the BBC, the creator Hrachik Adjamian said "when someone is calling me you can wake up pretty fast, you cannot just snooze a live person".

This seems pretty fun, harmless and on the surface actually quite a good idea. However, you mustn’t forget that you are putting your trust in others, that they will respect you and use the app for its purpose.  

Another thing to remember is that it's hard to always keep your details private online. The Wakie app demonstrates this because although it claims to be secure by withholding your number from whoever is calling you, it's been pointed out that if you fail to pick up their call and you have an answer-phone that reveals your number, it will no longer be secure.

I mentioned Wakie to a couple of my friends who are also in their early twenties.  They seemed excited and their eyes lit up as funny opportunities flashed through their minds.  It captured them and they thought it sounded really cool - especially when most of them are currently struggling to get out of bed for their 9am lectures at university.  They didn't seem particularly phased by the risks posed by the app and I guess as adults they are old enough to make their own decisions.  If they don't really mind that something might go a bit wrong, or that some personal details could be revealed, then thats up to them.  I think the most important thing is for them to just be aware of the dangers when using such an app. 

For children it is a whole different story.  In a recent survey 18% of children admitted to having met a stranger in person they originally met online.  With access to apps like Chatroulette or Wakie, children are increasingly being given the opportunity to meet and communicate with strangers.  Apps like this are growing in popularity, so parents really need to be aware of them and discuss the dangers with their children. 

If you would like more information and tips please visit our safeguarding children page