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March 2, 2023

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If you have a gamer in your household, chances are you’ve heard the word ‘Twitch’ being used. The name sounds fun, age-appropriate, and harmless. It would be easy to assume it is a type of game or a new slang word.

In reality, Twitch is a far more complicated platform that can expose children and young people to age-inappropriate content in a hard-to-control environment.

This guide to Twitch will take a closer look at what Twitch is and what you need to know to help keep your children and young people safe. Make sure you read to the bottom to catch our Top Tips and download our Twitch Shareable!

All About Twitch

  • Twitch is a livestreaming platform that launched in 2011. It describes itself as a place “where millions of people come together live every day to chat, interact, and make their own entertainment.
  • There are 31 million daily active users and around 7 million active streamers on Twitch, as of 2023.
  • There are free and paid versions of Twitch. Monthly subscriptions remove ads and give users access to exclusive streamer features. Twitch Prime is also included with Amazon Prime subscriptions.
  • Twitch uses in-platform currency called ‘Bits’ that viewers can use to support their favourite streamers. Bits are sold in bundles – the bigger the bundle, the bigger the discount.
  • The most popular Twitch channels have millions of viewers. For example, Ninja (a top-ranked streamer on Twitch) had 18.4 million followers in November 2022.
young male playing a video game
Livestreaming is transmitting or receiving live video and audio coverage of an event over the internet in real-time. It might show everyday moments, such as going for walks, cooking, painting, or attending events like festivals or fairs. There are also livestreams of static cameras that showcase inclement weather or significant events from around the world.

How does Twitch work?

Twitch was created specifically for live-footage broadcasters (streamers) to show off a variety of skills. The majority of people using Twitch are there to stream themselves playing games or to watch others livestreaming games. Popular games like Among Us and COD: Warzone can be found on the home page, but any game or theme can be searched for on the platform.

With an account, you can follow streamers, comment on videos, use streamer chat rooms, and subscribe to your favourite channels. In addition, Twitch has a direct messaging system called ‘Whispers’, which allows any user to communicate with another user, even if they are not friends on the platform.

Red flag: Age Requirements

Twitch guidelines state users must be at least 13-years-old to register for an account, and anyone under 18 should be authorised by a parent or guardian who agrees to the terms and conditions.

In November 2022, Twitch introduced mandatory phone verification requirements and strengthened their tech techniques to help identify and close accounts belonging to users who are under 13.

Despite this, there is no effective age verification process upon registration, and you do not need an account to browse video content on Twitch.

female gamer live-streaming on her computer

Twitch Safeguarding Alert

In 2022, a popular streamer broadcast themselves engaging in sexually explicit behaviour while livestreaming on Twitch. The content was later removed by Twitch for breaking their Community Guidelines. However, there is still a risk it may have been recorded and uploaded elsewhere.

Find out more about this incident by reading our full Safeguarding Alert.

What are Twitch’s safety settings?

  • Privacy settings – Twitch has reporting and blocking tools available to all users.
  • Turn off messages – Users can block receiving ‘Whispers’ from users who don’t follow them.
  • Explicit language filters – Restrictions can be set to moderate language in a livestream chatroom.
  • Control chatroom view – Users can pause or hide the livestream chatroom from their personal screen.
  • Mature content warning – Streamers showing potentially mature content show a visual warning to users before they join the stream.
  • Shared Ban Info – This allows streamers to identify any users who have been banned within channels by other streamers.

As with most platforms of this nature, the safety settings are not 100% fool proof. Ensure your child or young person knows how to adjust their privacy and use helpful tools when needed by visiting Our Safety Centre.

Case Study: The Bloomberg Report

Back in September 2022, an investigative report published by Bloomberg exposed major alleged risks to children’s safety and high incidences of child predation on Twitch. The report found that nearly 300,000 children and young people had been targeted by predators during the period of October 2020 to August 2022. They also found accounts suspected of belonging to predators often ‘followed’ more than 1,000 accounts belonging to ‘kids’.

What are the risks on Twitch?

With no effective age verification method on Twitch, underage viewers might see inappropriate content (such as sexual themes or violent gameplay) without warning.
There are no parental controls on Twitch. Parents and carers can’t enable safety measures on their child or young person’s account or restrict what content they are exposed to.
Any platform with livestreaming and live chat naturally promotes interaction with strangers. It is especially dangerous as strangers may connect through shared interests.
As there is common interest in the games or topics, a vulnerable child or young person may come to think of another user as a trusted friend, which could allow them to be exploited by a groomer.
Some children or young people may feel pressured or manipulated into sending money to their favourite streamers by other users or by the streamers themselves to ‘ensure the stream can continue’.
There have been concerns over platform moderation, as there is a short lifespan of bans (they normally last around 7 days) and the reasons are often inconsistent.
Even with filters and warnings, there may still be inappropriate or mature content within streams available to children and young people.
Any person can view a livestream, whether they have a Twitch account or not. Once an account has been made, the user is able to livestream immediately.

Top Tips

Talk to the young person in your care about livestreaming by asking things like “What type of livestream do they like to watch?” or “Can you show me your favourite Twitch streamer?
It may help to remember that online life is as important to them as their offline world. Discuss the types of livestreams they engage with and who they talk to on the platform.
Ensure that the child or young person in your care knows who they can always turn to if they see something that upsets or worries them, and they need advice or support.
You can use our Twitch Safety Card to show them how to do this. You could also consider reading this Guide to Twitch together if you feel its age appropriate for them.
A large part of online esports gaming culture is simply watching streamers play videogames. This could include games you have banned or that are age-inappropriate for your child or young person.
Remind them not to give out details like their real name, location, or even their other profile names. Usernames and profile pictures should also be considered!
Decide on a healthy spending limit for online platforms and games together. Depending on their financial maturity, also decide whether they should check with you first before spending!
Discuss the importance of deciding on healthy screen time habits together so that young people can recognise when to take a break – remember, moderation is key for everyone!

Twitch Safety Card

Online Safety Shareable

For practical learning, use Our Safety Centre and our Twitch Safety Card to help you and those in your care make the best online choices!

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Guidance on how to talk to the children in your care about online risks.
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