Is Twitch safe for children? What parents and carers need to know about Twitch

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Ofcom recently reported that in 2021 57% of 3-17-year-olds used live streaming apps or sites to watch or post content online. Twitch is the world’s most popular live streaming platform and has around 140 million active users.1

The platform is particularly popular within the gaming community, but in recent years it has expanded its content offering to include music, sports, and food. 

Children might use Twitch to watch other users play games, discover new games and find out about tips that could help them improve their gameplay.

Twitch works in a similar way to YouTube. Users can choose to set up their own streaming channel or subscribe and watch streamers they like.

What is Twitch?

Twitch is rated 13+, but there is no age-verification when you sign up.

Watch game-play 

Twitch is popular with the gaming community and many users use it to watch pre-recordings or live streams of other gamers playing popular games. Users can link their Twitch channel to their games console and broadcast their game in real-time.

Talk to others

The platform has different video and text chat that allow you to speak to others on the platform. Gamers might use it to share tips or talk about their favourite games.

Live stream events

Twitch sometimes hosts live gaming events. For example, they have a dedicated channel to stream E-sports.

Create your own channel 

Anyone can set up their own channel to live stream and share video content. Popular streamers can earn money through broadcasting on Twitch.

Twitch can be a useful way for your child to watch gaming tutorials and learn tips about their favourite games. However, livestreaming platforms can be unpredictable and its difficult to have control over what you see. Streams can quickly change into something inappropriate. Here are some of the risks you should be aware of:

  • Inappropriate content – There is no way to moderate live streams as they happen in real-time. Content can only be reported and removed after it has been posted or broadcast. This increases the risk of your child coming across inappropriate language and adult content.
  • Unwanted contact – There are no safety settings in place that stop children and young people accessing certain channels or chats. This could put your child at risk of receiving unwanted contact from other users via channel chat boxes or private a messages. Private messages on Twitch are known as ‘whispers’. You can send a whisper to anyone as long as you know their username.
  • Lack of appropriate moderation – During most live-streams, users have the option to talk to each other in a public chat box. Twitch does have some moderation and filter tools available which help to stop inappropriate or abusive language being shared. However, these have to be enabled by the channel owner.
  • Scams or phishing –Scammers might use sites like Twitch to trick other users into sending money to them through a third-party site like PayPal.

Features that can help to keep your child safe on Twitch

If your child receives or comes across upsetting or inappropriate comments, they can use the ‘Ignore feature’. This will stop comments from that user appearing on their screen.

To enable this feature in chat you need to click or type their username and select ‘Ignore user’.

You should encourage your child to block anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable or who shares upsetting or inappropriate comments. Blocking another removes them from your friends list and stops them from being able to contact you. It also filters out comments they post on other channels and chats so they won’t appear on your screen.

To use this feature, go to ‘Chat’ tap on the user you’d like to block and select ‘Block’.

The ‘Block Whispers from strangers’ feature will stop your child from receiving private messages from people they aren’t connected to. This setting can be found in ‘Privacy and security' on your child’s account.

The platform has automated chat filters that can help to stop inappropriate or abusive language from appearing on your child’s screen. There are four options that can be enabled:

  •  Discrimination – negative language about race, gender, and sexual orientation
  • Sexually Explicit Language – references to sexual acts or sexual content
  • Hostility – Aggressive or bullying language
  • Profanity – Expletives or other inappropriate words

These filters can be found in ‘Chat settings’.

Broadcasters can enable ‘Auto-Mod’ to help stop language and comments that goes against Twitch’s Community Guidelines from appearing in the chat.

Only creators or broadcasters can enable this feature. It can be found by visiting ‘Creator Dashboard’ and selecting ‘Moderation’.

'It can be difficult for parents and carers to manage what types of content their child can see on live streaming platforms as they play in real-time. If your child enjoys playing games online make sure to speak to them about other apps or sites they might be using alongside their console or favourite gaming platform.'

Talking to your child about Twitch

It’s important to talk to your child about how they are using Twitch. Try asking them about what channels they follow and if they talk to anyone on the platform. Here are some questions that could help start a conversation:

  •  Who is your favourite streamer on Twitch?
  •  Have you heard of a whisper?
  • What types of videos or live streams do you enjoy watching?
  •  Have you learnt any new gaming tips on Twitch?

Worried about a child?

Contact our Helpline by calling 0808 800 5000 or emailing [email protected].

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support