If your kid is a gamer, it is possible you’ve already heard the name Twitch and got curious about it. That’s probably why you are here. Even if not, it is a fast-growing platform and sooner or later you will want to know all there is to know about it. And we are here to give you the lowdown.
Twitch can be used to watch live streams and host your own channel for free. But if you choose to pay, you get benefits. It is a popular place for channels related to League of Legends and Fortnite. But you can also hop on the train to check out channels dedicated to podcasts, talk shows, art, and more.
Why Is Twitch So Popular?
In the gaming community, Twitch has been the place to stream gameplay. You can check out live commentary and interact with other games too. But there are a ton of young people outside of the gaming community who are a growing base on the platform.
This has also been an income stream for artists during COVID-19. While a lot of them do it for passive income, some have managed to make a career out of it. So, it is a way to make some moolah while being all about fun and games.
This has been possible since 2014 when e-commerce giant Amazon acquired Twitch. Soon, it was integrated with Amazon Prime and streamers have been able to offer in-stream links that allow viewers of the said stream to buy the games that are being talked about. It is also a place to run ads, subscriptions and ask for donations to make money.
When you are talking about gaming, it is impossible to leave out the prospect of reviewing popular games. If you are someone who can get early access to games like Minecraft, Fortnite, or League of Legends, you might even be able to make money by giving your viewers a sneak peek into the next rollout.
Is It Just for Gamers?
But that’s not all there is to Twitch. While gaming is huge on the platform, Twitch offers a lot more to its subscribers. Whether you are interested in music or sports or podcasts or fitness, there is a fanbase here that will keep you engaged and excited.
If a streamer has more than one interest, they are often seen to have more than one channel dedicated to such interest to garner a specific audience. And as you would expect, a lot of them are present on multiple platforms to promote their content.
That is important because when your child gains exposure to one streamer, their influence in your kid’s life is likely to go beyond just Twitch. This begs the question, what kind of content is available on Twitch, and is it age appropriate.
The platform itself allows anyone above the age of 13 to create an account. But since the nature of the platform is live streaming, it is recommended that users be more than 15 years of age. This is because open chats and streaming often tend to have mature content which can be accessed by any user.
If you want to know more about what kind of content is good for your children, you can check out Common Sense Media.
Speaking of open chats, Twitch has a feature where the users can interact with each other while watching a stream. This is not new and is seen on Instagram and YouTube lives too.
Now, these chats can be restricted to followers of the person who is live streaming. But you can’t exactly control who your child follows all the time and even if they can’t participate, they can still see what everyone else is saying.
That doesn’t exactly put your mind at ease, does it? Because it means that the possibility of being exposed to different kinds of grown-up content is very real.
Plus, there is the option of messaging other users in the chat, as every other social media platform does. You can control who gets in touch with you but if your child is using this without your supervision, you can’t control who they approach.
About Payment Models
Twitch has ads but is mostly free to use. However, there are several ways to spend or make money on the platform. The currency within the platform itself is called Bits and users can contribute to show support for a streamer through the chats. That’s called sending “Cheer”.
As a streamer, you can also set up a direct donations button and make money. Then there is the subscription model. Anyone on the platform can subscribe to a streamer for special access to things like private chats and badges by paying a monthly fee of $4.99.
Things Parents Should Watch Out For
With so much going on, it is only natural for parents of tweens to be a bit concerned. This problem is not unique to Twitch but with all social media platforms. So, what can you do with this one?
The platform does its best to make sure the content is age-appropriate for each user with a few in-house rules. But there are still plenty of things you should know as a parent so that you are aware of what your kid is being exposed to.
- A lot of the games are quite violent even though there are mature games like Call of Duty and Minecraft.
- There are a lot of advertisements for mature movies and games. Fast-food joints also get a lot of push on this platform.
- The commentary on the gaming streams can be described as mature, and even though there are rules about graphic content, cuss words are an active ingredient of the language.
- If you are worried about screen time, you are definitely not going to be pleased with Twitch. The content here, especially for kids who are gamers, is virtually unending.
Are There Parental Controls on Twitch?
With so much to worry about, you might have already thought about parental controls on the platform. Unfortunately, there are none unless the kid is below the age of 13. But it is not entirely hopeless.
You can enable a PIN and a secondary password and keep it from your kid. This allows users to make changes to the privacy settings of a particular account. You can stop strangers from approaching your kid’s account and also disable messaging in general if you’d like. Your kid might not be overly thrilled about it but you will rest easy knowing one problem has been solved.
Tips on How to Go About It
But there is a better way to do this rather than locking them out of the account and its features. The best way to do this is to sit down with them and explore the platform together.
Don’t tell them what to do, but sit with them while they figure it out. Keep the communication channels with your child open so that they feel free to be themselves around you.
This way, you know what kind of channels they are likely to browse. There is always the possibility of them straying when you’re not around but this is a start.
When they show interest in a specific game or a channel or a streamer, talk to them about what it is that grabbed their attention. Understand why they like the things they do. This will also give you an insight into the people they are likely to talk to and what they will be talking about.
When you discover the features with them, you don’t run the risk of not knowing the extent of communication your child might have with a stranger. The last thing you want is to not even know about the possibilities.
And regularly talk to your child about the friends they made on the platform. This works for other social media platforms too. Talking to them about their interests shows them that you are taking an interest in their life.
Once in a while, you should remind your child about the safety settings of the app and tell them that personal conversations with strangers about sensitive information are a bad idea.
Tell them that if such a thing happens they should let you know right away. Assure them that when they do, they won’t be in trouble with you and that it is for their own safety.
Educate your child about the advantages but also about the risks of oversharing content on social media. Tell them about the kind of content that is okay to share and the stuff that might land them in trouble with strangers. Give them real-life examples like sharing the same kind of information with a stranger on the street. Pay attention to their responses and engage with them positively.
Make them aware of the benefits of the internet and such platforms in terms of knowledge and entertainment. Keep it light but make sure they know they can talk to you if something makes them uncomfortable.
The Bottom Line
Social media platforms like Twitch are greatly beneficial when it comes to exposing your child to different cultures and conversations. Make sure you educate them about the benefits of having access to such platforms. But make them aware of the risks and tell them how to take precautions. In time, you won’t have much to worry about and your child will have loads of fun.
Lorenzo has been using the internet for as long as he can remember. He was there for the early days of message boards, he watched social media take over, and he’s excited to see what comes next.