The latest on live streaming

25 November 2019

TikTok, Yubo, Twitch, YouNow, Periscope, Instagram Live …….with the ever increasing popularity of live streaming apps and social networks amongst both children and young people, it’s important to understand how they work and the opportunities and risks they present.

Young person watching live streaming

Live streaming: what it is

Live streaming brings games and content creators together with their fans – all content is live, ‘in the moment’: it isn’t moderated and it’s often unrehearsed. It can be fun for young people, providing many opportunities to develop their creativity and showcase their talents. However, there are also risks associated with live streaming and engaging with other people’s broadcasts.

On live streaming sites, once content is broadcast nobody can watch it again – which can make streamers quite reckless and lead to inappropriate content.

The more serious risks of grooming have been highlighted by recent research:

  • An NSPCC survey (2018) found that, of those children and young people that have live streamed, 6% have received requests to change or remove their clothes.

  • Research by the IWF found that 98% of live streamed abuse was on largely private platforms, showing children aged 13 and under. The research found that Twitch was one of the most prevalent places where children reported being asked to send explicit material of themselves by adults, along with social media giants Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

Good to know 

  • Live streams can be broadcast publicly or privately, in one-on-one chats which cannot be viewed by others.

  • Apps and social networks such as TikTok, Yubo and Twitch are primarily live streaming platforms, while platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter offer live streaming functionality e.g. Twitter’s Periscope.
  • Children and young people can live stream anything: from dancing performances to sharing their views about a subject to providing tips and advice to other gamers as they play a particular game.
  • Young gamers, in particular, enjoy watching their favourite Youtubers and getting tips and advice on game play. Ninja, alongside the rapper Drake, smashed the record for the most simultaneous viewers to a single stream with 635,000 viewers on Twitch. A few weeks later he broke this record, with 667,000 viewers to a stream of him playing at an eSports event in Las Vegas.
  • In public live streams, viewers get involved by ‘liking’ videos and adding comments. • On some live streaming platforms, viewers can ‘gift’ live streamers. These ‘gifts’ can be converted into real money which can be spent online by the streamer

Twitch in brief

Young people flock to Amazon-owned Twitch, one of the world’s most popular live streaming services, to watch famous gamers play popular games (of any age rating) like Fortnite (PEGI 15) and Call of Duty (PEGI 18).  They can follow people or games and chat or message other Twitch members.

  • Twitch is not available to those under the age of 13.

  • Young people aged between 13 and 18 may only use Twitch if their parent or guardian agrees to Twitch’s terms of service.

  • Twitch doesn’t offer any parental controls although Twitch streamers can enable content warnings on their streams if they feel they are inappropriate for younger viewers.

  • Every stream on Twitch has live-chat, meaning viewers can discuss and react to what they are seeing.

  • There are no chat filters but individual broadcasters can ban specific words and the bigger channels are more likely to be safer options in this respect. However, this is optional so young people on Twitch may still be exposed to inappropriate language and behaviour.

  • The Whisper function allows users In the same channel to chat privately

Parents should be wary of the ‘Whisper’ feature: keep an eye on this for any inappropriate messaging; chat sequences tend to stay logged for a few months. This feature can be turned off in the settings.

Useful resources

Thinkuknow provides a package of resources for 8-18 year olds focusing on live streaming and the risks to children and young people. Click here to visit their site to find out more.

Three quarters of 12-15 year olds who go online are aware of live streaming, with almost 2 in 10 having shared videos via live streaming platforms

Ofcom 2018

Points for parents

Explore together

  • Review apps, sites and games together to assess whether they’re suitable.  On Twitch, watch channels for 15-20 minutes, multiple times (at different times of the day), in order to judge their suitability.

Encourage healthy online habits

  • Talk about good practices, like thinking carefully about what is shared (“Should we share everything?”, “What shouldn’t we share?”), be positive and encouraging.
  • Remind them that private information and photos/videos of their body shouldn’t be shared and that privacy settings give options to control what is shared; location settings can be switched off.

Inappropriate users can be reported and blocked.

 …… apps that allow two-way communication and live streaming, present particular risks to children of being groomed.

Andy Burrows, Head of child safety online policy, NSPCC

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