Live streaming
15 Nov, 2023
4 minute read

Live streaming

In recent years, the phenomenon of live streaming has taken the world by storm. From simply showcasing your life to broadcasting social and political events, it gives people an opportunity to share whatever they’re experiencing with a global audience, live in real time. 

But how suitable is live streaming for young people? Here's everything you need to know. 


What is live streaming?

Live streaming is the broadcasting of real-time, live video to an audience over the internet. All you need to be able to live stream is an internet-enabled device, like a smartphone or tablet and a platform to broadcast on.

Most platforms that offer live streaming services have an age rating of 13+. 

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Why is it so popular?

Live streaming offers young people the chance to be creators and presenters of their own content, not just passive viewers of other people’s. It feels more ‘authentic’ than pre-recorded posts in that there is no editing process and viewers can follow along and comment in real-time. The immediacy of live streaming is also highly appealing. 

As live streaming platforms such as Twitch became increasingly popular, traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram adopted live streaming into their in-app experience. 

It can help young people connect to others online, showcase their talents and develop their communication skills. Live streaming can also help build young people’s confidence as their audiences grow.

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What do parents need to be aware of?

Lack of moderation

Live streaming is very difficult to moderate. It has been used to broadcast abusive and harmful behaviour, which means that children can stumble across inappropriate live streamed content they were not expecting to see.

The responsibility lies with the user to report any content they find upsetting or abusive. Make sure that children understand that no-one is monitoring these streams and that reporting can be difficult given the impermanent nature of the content. 

There can also be a lack of self-moderation. Young people are able to use their screens as a sort of safety net, creating a distance between themselves and the viewers. This may mean that they feel more able to do things they wouldn’t otherwise face-to-face. This can be a good thing, helping them develop confidence – but it may also encourage them to behave more recklessly. 

Privacy concerns

Live streaming can endanger children’s privacy. An absentminded slip up in creating a stream, such as going live whilst wearing their school uniform or standing in front of their house can expose personal information that can put young people at risk.

Make sure children understand that live streaming sites are by nature public and should not be used like private messaging apps. They should be mindful of any personal information they may be accidentally revealing, and take the time to think about what their stream is going to involve – even if this makes it a bit less spontaneous. 

Mental health impact

Live streaming is also impulsive by nature. There is no way to edit what is shared. In some sense this can be liberating for young people, offering a level of perceived authenticity that cannot always be not found in other aspects of social media. However, live streaming runs the risk of a child sharing something that they might later regret.

While live streaming can offer an initial rush of validation as viewers start to engage with a stream, this validation (or even just the attention of an audience) could mean that young, impressionable streamers are more prone to the kind of reckless or inappropriate behaviours mentioned earlier.

Similarly, becoming overly reliant on having (and entertaining) an audience could present a longer-term risk to young people’s self-esteem, as they are especially vulnerable to negative comments and feedback. 

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This article was last updated on 18/01/23.



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