It can be difficult for parents to keep up with the constantly changing world of social media. The current trend in social media is live-streaming apps like, Twitch. But what is Twitch? Is it safe for kids?
What is Twitch
Twitch is an interactive streaming app owned by Amazon with over 31 million daily visitors. Founded in 2011, Twitch is an online streaming site that is primarily used by gamers but features other non-gaming content. Twitch is popular with streamers that play through video games and want to engage with community. Users can watch live or per-recorded streams of their favorite content usually with audio commentary. User can engage in a chat with other viewers and sometimes the streamer, private chat options are also available.
According to the terms of services, Twitch users must be at least 13 years and users between 13 and 18 should use the platform with an adult.
There are free and paid versions of Twitch. The paid version removes ads and unlocks more features for users. Users can subscribe to their favorite streamers and are encouraged to donate via the Twitch currency known as “bits”. Bits are purchased with real money via Amazon, Paypal or Apple and enable users to subscribe to steamers to access bonus material and purchase emotes (images used to communicate with other viewers).
Best for: 15 and up
Content varies on each channel but some users play games that are violent and involve bloody fighting scenes.
In the settings user can “Restrict Content” that filters language that is discriminatory, sexually explicit language, hostility, and profanity within the chats.
Some streamers use explicit language in their audio commentary, there are options to block these channels but streamers don’t always enable the setting on their end to denote their use of adult language.
Sexually explicit content is not allowed according to Twitch terms of service. However, games rated M for mature can be streamed on Twitch which may display inappropriate content. Twitch does prohibit streaming games rated AO (adult only).
Some channels mention drug and alcohol use.
Tips for Using Twitch
Twitch is wildly popular with the gaming community and can be a great way for gamers to connect with others. However, there are some features and content that may put children at risk or concern parents. Here are a few tips to keep your teen safe while using Twitch:
Set up a 18 and under account – Set up your account with an age under 18, this will help filter inappropriate content.
Watch with them – According the the Twitch terms of service, users under 18 must have parental supervision. Keep an eye on what your child is watching and talk to them if you have any concerns.
Set Parental Controls – Restricts certain types of content, block certain channels, and disable private messaging. Blocking “whispers” (private messages) will help protect your child from online predators.
Report Bad Behavior – Encourage your child to report any inappropriate content or behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Restrict or Monitor Purchases – Users are encouraged to spend real money. Set limits or restrictions to prevent over-spending.