The Low-down on Livestreaming
by Taylor Pauken, M.A., Advanced Psychology Extern
You may have noticed your child watching videos of other people in real-time, either watching them apply makeup or showing your children how to beat levels in video games, for example. Watching or streaming videos in real-time, as events are happening, is called livestreaming. Livestreaming is interactive, which means that those viewing the livestream can make comments to which those recording can respond immediately. There are many reasons why children are attracted to livestreaming: it’s akin to in-person interactions, allows them to be creative and connect with others, and it gives them an opportunity to build a following and be like their online role models. Many popular apps now have the option to “go live,” including Facebook, Instagram, musical.ly, Twitch, and Let’s Play. Livestreaming is becoming increasingly widespread, and estimates according to Internet Matters suggest that around ¼ of children are producing livestreams, while just over 40 percent are consistently viewing livestreams.
Livestreaming carries many benefits for children. It allows them to connect with others who have similar interests, and is an outlet for self-expression and creativity. Livestreaming has the potential to be used in an educational environment, which would increase accessibility to resources and would offer students the opportunity to go back to certain lessons, if needed. For example, FXW’s Old St. Patrick’s campus morning broadcast uses Livestream to build community and share resources. It can also help children build more confidence and potentially gain financial rewards depending on what kind of livestream they are producing. Despite these benefits, there are also some potential risks to be aware of if your child is livestreaming. This technology has been used to stream events in which people have been harmed or broken the law to gain more followers. Because it is difficult to moderate what happens in real time during livestreams, children have the potential to be exposed to inappropriate language, bullying, violence, and risky attention-seeking behaviors. Children may also feel more comfortable doing or saying things they may not in face-to-face interactions, or accidentally overshare personal information that puts them or other children at risk.
So, what can parents do if their children are livestreaming? It may seem scary and daunting for parents, but some practical tips can help parents safely navigate this form of technology with their children. Having regular discussions about internet safety and boundaries around appropriate streaming times, locations, and topics can help protect your child’s privacy. Before allowing children to “go live,” it may be helpful to research the app and check privacy settings to ensure the livestream is only being shared with your child’s friends and the location-sharing setting is turned off. Discussions surrounding what may happen while livestreaming, how to handle inappropriate behaviors or responses, and the emotional impact of livestreaming are also important. Finally, it may help ease worry surrounding livestreaming, if you follow or “friend” your child’s accounts and regularly monitor their activity. With appropriate guidance and communication, livestreaming can be a beneficial and positive experience for children. Check out this quick guide for more information: Parents’ Guide to Livestreaming