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After these last two years, one type of online socialising has taken over how people from all over the world interact with one another at the same time. ‘Livestreaming’ happens when a video is broadcast and received in real-time over the internet. It’s the closest we can get to in-person socialising using online interaction. The real-time interaction can feel personal and intimate, which may explain its vast popularity with the fans of celebrities and influencers.

When users ‘go live’, viewers can interact with the livestream by sending gifts, comments, or reactions. Viewers might also receive notifications to encourage them to watch livestreams from people they follow (i.e. @SantaClaus1 has gone live. Watch now!)

5 Ways for Safer Livestreams:

1. Understand How Livestreaming Can Influence Behaviour

Livestreaming can be a fun activity for children and young people to broadcast to their friends online. But the fun and instant nature of livestreaming can influence behaviour through the ‘online disinhibition effect’.

This happens when a person feels less restraint on the internet than they would in a face-to-face interaction. During livestreams, young people might let their guard down and feel comfortable saying or doing things ‘in the moment’ that they would not offline. This excitement can be overwhelming and enticing if there are a lot of likes or reactions being sent.

Helping young people understand how the internet can influence their behaviour is important to support them to be safer online.

Top Tip: Encourage the children and young people in your care to only livestream to people they also know offline. Remind them that others could record their livestream without their knowledge.

2. Protect Personal Information

Most livestreaming takes place at home, a perceived safe place. This is not as safe as you might think. There might be items or photographs in the background of a video that may inadvertently give away personal information such as their school’s badge, uniform, or memorabilia. Remind young people to be aware of what is in the background of their livestreams, and to protect their personal information if their audience asks personal questions.

While social media trends are leaning towards people being their ‘real selves’ online, it might be confusing or dangerous to their mental health and well-being if they are confronted with an uncomfortable question about something happening in their personal life.

Top Tip: Help young people recognise and respond to the expectation (and pressure) to be entertaining or authentic during livestreams. Ask them to livestream in a shared room at home, rather than their bedroom, which is more private.

3. Block and Report

There may be instances of inappropriate behaviour from adults and other young people during livestreams. If someone says or does something that makes a young person uncomfortable, they should know how to block the user from the livestream and report their behaviour. This will help them and other young people stay safer online.

Top Tip: Use Our Online Safety Centre to discuss how to block and report on livestreaming platforms. Users can also set restrictions on who can see their livestream.

4. Talk about Abusive Behaviour

You should encourage children and young people in your care to talk to you about anything that upsets or distresses them online. Gifting functions on some livestreaming platforms can be misused to coerce or convince a young person to do or say a particular thing. Help them understand what is OK and what is not OK by creating a set list of boundaries with them, allowing them to navigate any confusion or discomfort when it happens.

Top Tip: Children and young people should be particularly cautious of requests to chat privately, on platforms where conversations cannot be seen or moderated. Ask them to identify their trusted adults they would talk to if they had a problem and reiterate how dangerous it is to talk to someone they don’t know online.

5. Set Limits on Screen Time

The age-old advice of ‘everything in moderation’ stands up to how we should think about screen time. Although livestreaming can help children and young people develop their confidence, creativity, and communication skills, moderation is key. Creating healthy screen time habits and encouraging productive time offline can help support the health and wellbeing of young people.

Top Tip: Agree to a time limit for any livestreams created by those in your care. This will help support them to maintain healthy screen time habits, and it will also reduce the chance of ‘off-script’ moments.

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