Live-streaming, whether it be video games, cooking, or conversations, has never been more popular. More and more of us, and our kids, are hopping into live stream channels every day on websites like Twitch and YouTube or in apps like TikTok and Instagram.
These live streams are more akin to like concerts or sporting events than they are watching a movie at home. There are standards of behavior to follow when you are out in public. It is our job as parents to teach our kids how to behave in these virtual spaces.
Don’t worry though. We’re not going to lay that responsibility at your feet and walk away. That would be super rude and not our style. Instead, we’ll talk about what live streaming is and give you some tips on how to guide your kids.
What is Live-Streaming Anyway?
Live streaming is the practice of streaming live video across the internet without it editing. Technically speaking, when you watch Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime… you are live streaming that. Those types of broadcasts have happened for a long time. They may be live, but they aren’t (often) very interactive.
Now, individual “streamers” can broadcast just about anything. Twitch streams include everything from playing video games and recording podcasts to baking cookies and painting miniatures. It isn’t only a broadcast though! Viewers can interact with both the streamer and each other! This allows communities to form and turns each stream into a live performance.
How Interactive are Live Streams?
In short: Very. That’s the entire point. It gives viewers an increased level of access to the streamer and a chance to communicate with them as well as their other viewers and fans.
The key lesson to remember is that while live streaming does create a more personal connection between a streamer and their audience that doesn’t mean that the streamer is their audience’s “friend.” In fact, they don’t have a relationship at all (at least not in the way we think of them).
The term “parasocial relationship” was first used all the way back in 1957 in a paper involving people who felt they had personal relationships with radio and television personalities. The phenomenon happens with streamers all the time.
At the end of the day, they are not much different from a radio DJ or a TV weatherperson. The difference is that they have an easier time responding to people thanks to the technology they use. That ease of response can give viewers a sense of comfort in the stream’s chat. This can lead to some embarrassing results.
Guidelines for Watching Live Streams
Below are some guidelines for how to interact with streamers that you can give to kids.
No Real Names
Don’t call a streamer by their first name unless they tell you that you can. This implies a level of familiarity that your child doesn’t have. You should encourage your child to use the streamer’s screen name or handle instead. This goes both ways though. Your kid should be using a screen name as well.
Many live-streaming services allow viewers to subscribe to a channel. You need to make sure that your kids know that subscriptions buy entertainment. They do not buy access. There are those on the internet that believe that subscribing to a channel on Twitch or to a user on Patreon should grant them more access to the content creator. Sometimes they even think that it makes them “friends.” This isn’t the case. A Twitch subscription grants you access to more content from the creator, but it doesn’t mean that they should give you more access to their personal life.
Read The Rules
The very first thing your child should do when they start to watch a new stream is read the rules. This will let them know what kind of channel they are in, what the expectations are of them, and what the environment will be like. This will be a great way for your child to know if the chat will be safe for them. You should tell your child to be wary of streamers with no rules. These streamers can have pretty toxic communities.
Don’t Be a Moderator
Every channel has different rules for how to behave there. If your child spends time in those channels they will learn those rules. They should not, however, try to enforce those rules unless they have been chosen to be a moderator by the streamer. This can add to the confusion in the chat and make it harder for the moderation team to do their work and interrupt the stream for everyone else.
Talk to Everyone (Except the Streamer)
Teach them to interact more with the chat than they do with the streamer. The streamer is performing for a group of people and shouldn’t be expected to talk to everyone. Instead, the community is supposed to form around the streamer and talk amongst themselves.
The below video is a panel hosted early on during the pandemic in 2020. It features a diverse group of streamers with years of experience. They talk a lot about how users should behave while watching streams and talk a lot about the experiences they have had. It is an enlightening video for anyone who watches regularly.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!
Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!
- Video Games for kids on Xbox One
- Video Games for kids on PS4
- Video Games for kids on Nintendo Switch
- Board Games for kids
Follow us on Facebook!
Like us on Twitter!
Follow us on Instagram!
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Subscribe to our Podcast!