Is Twitch Safe for Kids?

Feb 5, 2023 | Apps, Online Gaming

Is Twitch Safe for Kids?

What is Twitch?

Twitch is an online streaming website that allows “Twitch Creators,” aka “Streamers” or “Broadcasters,” to host content across multiple categories from gaming to a broad array of art to esports to music to podcasts to instant message chatrooms. The Twitch platform allows users, “creators” and viewers, to engage with each other, share screens, and chat in large groups without requiring users to have an official account or be “friends” or “followers” of one another.

Basically, it’s a free for all that’s available through the web, mobile devices, and some game consoles. And while there may be an educational factor for hobbies and interests, it’s important to have conversations with our kids about appropriate behavior, safety, and privacy.

Is Twitch Safe for Kids?

While Twitch’s terms of service require all users to be at least 13-years old, it’s easily bypassed as accounts can be created with any valid email address. However, individuals may view other’s streams without an account. Although the age limit is 13-years old, this doesn’t mean all viewers 13+ should be contributing or viewing what is being broadcast and said on the platform. Why? Because inappropriate content is unrestrained and viewers may encounter sexual content, profanity, violence, and discrimination.

Twitch Chatrooms & Direct Messaging

Twitch also has a direct messaging feature that allows users to take their conversation off the group chat and start their own one-on-one conversations. Again, it’s important to understand that users do NOT need to be “friends” on the platform to start private conversations with other users. This DM feature opens the opportunity for adults (possibly posing as kids) to contact your child and begin building a “relationship.” This feature makes Twitch, and other community streaming platforms, ideal hunting grounds for predators.

In addition, the group chatrooms also provide a stage for cyberbullying, as well as the opportunity to promote dangerous behaviors like self-harm, eating disorders, cutting, and suicide. With no limit to the number of users in a “group” these chatrooms can develop into a stage with a very large audience that often develops into a pack mentality whereby people can be influenced by the majority. When this occurs, one voice is magnified by the group and can, in effect, be like a large mob in your room shouting very convincing hateful speech.

The difference between in-person verbal assaults by a large group and chatroom assaults is that each person can be anonymous using a fabricated profile handle that may or may not be associated with the user’s REAL identity. The impact this has on the victim’s mental health is extreme because when the victim interacts in the offline world, it is unknown who is truly threatening them… in the victim’s mind it could be anyone in their life. This fear may cause the victim to retreat into isolation, detaching from friends and family (their support system), and impact their academics, sleep, and other interests that previously excited them.

Twitch Content

If your child is a Twitch user, it’s important to understand that there is NOT a dedicated “kid friendly” stream for specific age groups, like YouTube Kids. The truth is it’s impossible to know the “host” of the channel/server’s personality. Viewers can’t predict if the “host” is family-friendly or whether swearing and vulgar language are their M.O. while playing their game(s) or whatever activity is being streamed. And just as bad, the same is true for the personalities of the participants of the chatrooms.

Twitch “Safeguards” for Parents

Currently, Twitch offers limited parental controls; however, if your child is viewing or streaming on Twitch, be sure to review the platform’s chat filers in the settings. In here, parents can “enable filtering in chat”, and make sure all the toggles are on. Twitch’s chat filters allow viewers, not “Creators, to block chats across all channels viewed that contain discrimination, sexually explicit language, hostility, and profanity.

Co-viewing Twitch with Your Child

What other steps can parents take to make sure their child is safe on Twitch? Take time to co-view with your child so you know what type of content they’re viewing, the channels/servers they belong to, and how they’re participating. In co-viewing how your kids use any social media platform, you can engage with them and understand how they participate in these platforms. Aside from ensuring our kids are safe and aware of the possibility of predators, co-viewing gives parents insight into their kids’ interests. Remember NOT all channels, groups, or servers are detrimental to your child, rather they may have educational value to advance a hobby or interest.

There are definite benefits to social media for kids. But keeping them safe online comes down to discussing time limits, understanding how your child uses the platform, knowing the content they contribute, how they communicate, how others communicate with them, and most importantly, WHO they communicate with.

Communication is Key

Through open communication and engaging in conversations with your kids about safety, the risks of predators, the importance of not sharing personal information, and basic overall privacy, and safety, we can make sure our kids are educated and prepared for the possible risks online. It’s the same process as when they’re old enough to go to school or play outside with their friends on their own.

It’s critical to continue to engage with your child’s online activities, take time to participate in what they’re doing online without judgment – ask them questions, which, yes, may annoy them. But remember, the most important goal for parents is to understand why kids like what they like and post what they post. This will help us to understand and communicate with them better – and build a relationship whereby when, or if, something scary or awful happens to them online or offline, they’ll feel safe and comfortable coming to you.

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

OurPact’s initiative is to keep your kids safe online and is available on both iOS and Android platforms. OurPact allows parents to manage their child’s mobile devices, block specific apps, set appropriate screen time allowances, and ‘View‘ their device activity. The app also includes a family locator feature with detailed breadcrumbs allowing parents to see where their kids stop at along the way to their destination.

While some parents have reservations about installing parental controls on their children’s personal devices, just remind yourself of the dangers that exist on the Internet 24/7/365.

From cyberbullying, to sextortion, to catfishing and more, there are countless threats and predators trolling the web every single day. That’s why parents need to be more vigilant than ever in protecting their kids online. It’s simply not safe to give children and teens complete free reign over what they do on their phones and tablets.

OurPact and Your Family

Worried how your kids will react to OurPact? Rather than installing OurPact without talking with your kids, we recommend having an open conversation with them and explain the goal of this app…to keep them safe. Then, take the time to develop daily screen time allowance and device schedules together. Getting our kids to participate in their OurPact jr. profile set up and allowing them to engage in creating their device rules will give them a sense of autonomy, generate buy-in, and encourage adherence.

At OurPact, we don’t believe all screen time is awful. We understand that mindful use of social media, online gaming, and other streaming platforms, like YouTube, are a resource with many educational videos that can be beneficial for all of us. There is a plethora of creative ideas, in depth knowledge of our interests and hobbies, educational information, and social networking opportunities to be found online.

Many of these are beneficial for learning and growing our own resource bank of information and networking circle. But healthy screen time really comes down to curating our searches, as well as our friends, followers, and whom we choose to follow. It’s all about mindfully scrolling vs doomscrolling, doomsurfing, mindless link clicking, and accepting every friend or follow request we receive.

Looking for a solution to keep your kids safe online? Get started with OurPact’s 14-day free trial of our Premium+ subscription and discover for yourself why it’s the #1 parental control and family locator app on the market. There is no obligation, cancel any time within your 14-day trial and you will not be charged.

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