Twitch: Why Do Students Like It? (Parent Guide)

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Twitch: Why Do Students Like It? (Parent Guide)

January 18, 2019
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Table of Contents

Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned my Amazon where users watch people live stream themselves as they play video games (and live chat with viewers). Twitch is the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US and contains lots of chances for your students to chat live with friends (and strangers) on the platform.

  • February 18, 2019 Update:
    A new study estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase).
  • Twitch  is one of the fastest-growing platforms for American content creators. In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators. (Fun Fact: Instagram’s creator-based revenue growth grew nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 to $460 million, according to the study.)

What is Twitch?

  • Twitch is a live streaming video platform owned my Amazon
  • The platform is predominantly used to live stream users playing video games
  • Some popular video formats are eSports tournaments, personal streams of individual players, and gaming-related talk shows
  • Streamers will live stream a video with commentary and users can chat along with the video live, or users can choose to be invisible while watching videos
  • Videos can be watched live or users can watch a replay if they missed the live stream
  • Video games with an “adult only” rating are not allowed on Twitch
  • Twitch is available on desktop, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, and Android devices
  • Users must be 13 years or older to sign up for Twitch but we recommend that parents supervise their children if they use the platform

Does Twitch cost money to play? 

  • Streamers (those who broadcast live video) can earn commissions on games they advertise during their videos. - This makes it worthwhile for influencers to get your students to follow them on this platform
  • Users can follow their favorite streamers for free or subscribe to their channel for a fee - Real money your student spends to follow influencers
  • Additionally, users can purchase games through the Twitch platform
  • Twitch has a library of emoticons available for users called “emotes.” Some emotes are free for all users but users can buy subscriptions to access more
  • The “cheering” feature allows users to cheer for their favorite live streamers for a small fee
  • In order to use the “cheering” feature, a user must pay with “bits.” Bits are a form of currency on Twitch which is bought using real money on Amazon
  • Streamers can earn badges on their channels depending on how many “cheers” they’ve received

Is there any non-gaming content on Twitch?

  • Non-gaming related content can also be live streamed on Twitch. Some other categories of content include music, creative, and IRL (in real life)
  • Music content can be radio shows, music production activities, or live shows
  • Creative content showcases the process of completing an artistic or creative piece of work
  • IRL (in real life) content is for any video that doesn’t fit into the other main categories

Twitch statistics:

  • As of May 2018, Twitch had 2.2 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users
  • Users spend an average of 2 hours a day on the platform
  • Twitch is one of the top 20 most trafficked websites in the U.S.

Source: Wikipedia & The New Yorker

Why should parents care?

  • Twitch is the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US. Meaning it is very popular with students
  • Live chat rooms are a main feature of the platform which can be dangerous for tweens and teens
  • Users can receive private messages called “whispers”
  • Students can come across inappropriate content either through graphic video games, mature language, or advertisements
  • Users are constantly being encouraged to make purchases on Twitch, so costs can add up if parents aren’t monitoring or setting guidelines
  • No matter how much you configure your student’s Twitch security settings, there is no way to know if the content is safe for your student unless you become familiar with the platform and review their favorite videos or streamers

Twitch in the news:

Because the chat gets so out of hand on bigger channels, or the broadcaster’s living content space. It pretty much becomes a yelling contest filled with cyberbullying, hate speech and more. Net Nanny

With Twitch’s popularity, the platform has now attracted similar predators. Although the service is said to be only for users 13 and up, those under the age of 18 should tread with extreme caution. –Internet Safe Education

Popular games on Twitch:

As of June 2018:

  • Fortnite
  • League of Legends
  • Dota 2
  • PUBG: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (similar to Fortnite)
  • Hearthstone
  • Overwatch
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

What parents says about Twitch:

This website is advertised as a gaming platform, however there is an "IRL", In Real Life section which is typically for people to hang out and interact with the streamer and other viewers. BE WARNED, this section is typically where the viewers donate to see the streamer do things for money such as drink alcohol or do squats in revealing clothing. This questionable platform should be monitored if you do not want your child to be viewing this type of suggestive content. Not only can this damage your finances, but this could damage the morals you wish to instill on your child at such a young age.

Twitch is Live, this means what you're seeing is happening almost at the same time, and people are watching it with you at the same time, which may ring the security bell for many parents. Twitch also has the option to donate money to your favorite streamers which there's usually a minimum but no maximum; this could be a minor issue if your kid has their own debit/credit card or just so happens to know your credentials by heart. Twitch is for the most part, a teen to adult website.

There are an abundant amount of mature streamers playing the usual violent video games which is nothing new nor is it necessarily bad. What worries me is the growing number of Women streamers using their bodies and over-sexualizing their stream to gain more viewers and in turn, donators. This should obviously raise a red flag for parents.

Source: Common Sense Media

What can parents do?

  • Talk to your student and ask them if they have a Twitch account or if their friends use the platform
  • If your student has an account we recommend they delete it and focus on apps that can have a positive impact on their digital footprint
  • If you decide Twitch is safe for your student, be on the platform with them to monitor their activity
  • Configure their account settings to limit who they can talk to and block private messages from strangers
  • Remind your children to never share personal information with anyone on Twitch or online
  • Know what games and users your children like on Twitch, watch their videos to determine if they are safe for your family
  • Set screen time guidelines and explain them to your student so they can be a part of the solution. Consider using visual timers when they spend time on Twitch so that they can develop skills to self-regulate their time spent online
  • Create a supportive environment by telling your children that they can always come to you (or a trusted adult) if they come across content that makes them uncomfortable on Twitch
  • Teach your children to keep their content Light, Bright & Polite™ on the platform because it can show up in their digital footprint

Twitch marketing says:

We are a global community of millions who come together each day to create their own entertainment: unique, live, unpredictable, never-to-be repeated experiences created by the magical interactions of the many. With chat built into every stream, you don’t just watch on Twitch, you’re a part of the show.

Conclusion

No matter how much you configure your student’s Twitch security settings, there is no way to know if the content is safe for your student unless you become familiar with the platform and review their favorite videos or streamers. However, we recommend students focus on apps that can have a positive impact on their digital footprint. 

Does your child use Twitch? What are your favorite tips for keeping them safe? Let us know in the comments below!

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