Watching Gaming: What is streaming?

Many children enjoy playing games and there is a growing number of young people watching others play or trying to stream themselves.   

Streaming is where a person records themselves playing either single or multiplayer games, and they provide a running commentary potentially including hints and tips (Game Glossary – Parents.Ygam).  The “community” can then post comments that the streamer may reference in the stream and “sub” (subscribe) or tip with “bits” for the streamer to make money from the stream. 

The streams can be viewed through devices, making it accessible anytime, anywhere, and you don’t have to watch it live. 

Incredibly popular with children and young people, some of the most watched influencers base their content on video games such as PewDiePie (110 million subscribers) and Ninja (30 million subscribers), with many popular streamers doing so as a form of income, receiving financial rewards depending on their audience size. 

Just like watching the latest Neymar football trick on YouTube or a Charli D’Amelio dance on TikTok, many gamers watch these streams to improve their performance. They can learn new strategies and boost their skill set, or just watch because they like the streamer and the content they produce. 

Itis a form of entertainment and provides an opportunity to chat to like-minded people around the world. 

There are many streaming platforms to choose form.  Twitch is the most popular (accounting for almost half of the streaming traffic*) followed by YouTube and Facebook Gaming, but there are many others, including Mixer, GosuGamers and Afreeca TV. 

What do I need to know? 

Streaming can help young people develop in-game skills and offers a way to keep in touch. They may watch to see their favourite streamer play through a game they struggle with, or that they can’t play (due to not owning it or the game not being age appropriate). However, like other online activities, there are risks.  Chat functions are often open to anyone meaning your child can be speaking to anyone from anywhere of any age. 

The game might have an appropriate PEGI rating but your child may be subjected to inappropriate content via the chat or commentary or even be contacted directly by strangers. 

What can I do? 

  • Check the privacy settings on your child’s devices. Who can view their profile and who can contact them?  If possible, have devices in an open space rather than a bedroom so you can monitor conversations. 
  • Hold regular discussions with your child about unsafe behaviours online, what they can do to stay safe and what to do if they are a victim or witness unsafe behaviour.  
  • Join in. One of the best ways to understand what your child enjoys about watching streams is to watch one with them and chat about any issues you perceive there and then. 
     

*source Sportskeeda & Vidooly 

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