Chatroulette is the latest social networking sensation attracting new users rapidly across the globe. Developed in late 2009 by Moscow-based teenager Andrey Ternovskiy, Chatroulette provides an extreme social networking experience to thousands of users at a time. The New York Times states that Ternovskiy initially created Chatroulette for fun and to connect limitless amounts of strangers via video chat. This innovative new website is attracting demographics of all sorts.

Imagine booting up your computer, logging on with your webcam powered up, and at the click of a button you are virtually face-to-face with a perfect stranger. This stranger may be a housewife looking for an adult break from a grueling day of toddler babble. He or she may be a well-known actor looking for shock and adoration from an unsuspecting fan. Or maybe it is the love of your life, unbeknownst to you, popping up on your computer, initiating a virtual romance.

These options sound like fun and represent what Ternovskiy had in mind when developing the site. However, Chatroulette is proving that when there is access to fun, there is also access to trouble. According to an article on FoxNews, this trouble may be manifesting itself in the form of child predators across the globe.

To the horror of parents everywhere, pedophiles have the ideal opportunity to get naked, log on to Chatroulette, and wait to be connected to young children. As described by Nick Bolton, Chatroulette’s roll of the dice approach to connecting strangers creates an environment for disturbing behavior to take place. Sadly, this can also create an ideal environment for child predators to act out sick desires. In addition to the opportunity to reveal themselves to underage viewers, pedophiles can take their illegal fantasies to the next level by enticing unsuspecting children to join in indecent activities.

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, states in an interview with CBS’s The Early Show that “the site is the last place parents want their kids to be....This is a huge red flag; this is extreme social networking...This is a place kids are going to gravitate to."

Though site creator Ternovskiy is against indecent behavior taking place, there have not been many preventative actions implemented. Chatroulette requires users to confirm that they are at least 16 years old and agree to not broadcast obscene, offending, or pornographic material. He also provides instructions for reporting indecent behavior. However, the preventative measures seem to end there. User registration is not a current requirement, making it almost impossible to track down pedophiles caught if an incident takes place.

Though many hold the opinion that it would be ideal for the site to impose stricter regulations, or to even be shut down, it does not look likely in the near future. The Communication Decency Act of 1996 protects websites like Chatroulette. This act can be interpreted in a way that exempts websites from liability for conduct of third party users, leaving law enforcement at a roadblock.

One option that law enforcement has in catching predators is to log onto the site and wait for predators to act. Due to stretched budgets and a lack of available time, this method is not likely to make a large impact immediately.

With little assistance from the law, parents have few options in protecting their children from predators who may frequent this site. However, one of the only options parents are left with might just be the most powerful option. Take the advice of Ernie Allen and keep your children far from this site to protect them.

If you are not sure how to block website accessibility on your family computer, call your internet provider immediately. In my experience, they are more than happy to walk you through it.