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Twitch

Twitch is a popular live streaming platform for videogames and its community of fans from across the world. The app allows gamers and gaming fans to watch their favourite gamers play and chat as part of a community with other fans from around the world.  You cannot join a live game in Twitch, but you can use the platform to chat with other fans whilst watching a game being live streamed. Although gaming is the dominant part of Twitch, it also allows the sharing of a range of other content with categories for users to browse on other topics.  Other themes include music and arts, E-sports, fitness and chat.

Official age rating

The minimum age for Twitch users is 13, however ,it does not have any rigorous age verification methods.

The age rating of 13 may apply to the functionality of the Twitch app itself but older content can be livestreamed using the app, and therefore the age rating does not reflect any user-generated content. In addition to the age rating, above Twitch’s ‘Terms of service’ it states that those under 18 must have parental supervision.

Find out more about age ratings in our A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games.

How children and young people use the app

Twitch is loved by gamers and gaming fans. Children and young people enjoy watching livestreams of their favourite gamers, potentially chatting or commenting on the play of celebrity live streamers and enjoying the excitement of the game being played live. It’s also a place for them to chat to other groups of fans and form connections. Children who sign into the game often have different channels where they check out their favourite gamers, watch previous gameplay or newly uploaded content.

Twitch is often used in a similar way to YouTube to watch the best gamers play, but whereas YouTube has a wide range of content across a range of topics, Twitch is particularly known for its popularity with gaming fans. Twitch offers interactivity in the live chats and chat features (memes and emojis) that encourage a sense of shared community and participation. Those that are actually streaming can also read the chat in real-time and may even respond to messages, which can be very exciting for children and young people. On Twitch the focus is really on viewing the live stream and sharing enjoyment of gaming in an ‘in the moment’ way.

Twitch.tv offers a ‘signed-out’ experience so it is easy to get an overview of the content on Twitch without signing up for an account. This can be a useful way to understand Twitch at a glance

Potential risks

Content

Although the app itself is age rated 13 and Twitch does have moderators in relation to content and chat, it does allow the livestreaming of a number of PEGI rated age 18 games such as Grand Theft Auto which contains significant amounts of sexual and violent content. In reality, most of the games livestreamed on Twitch are aimed at older users and have mature content and themes. Twitch does feature gamers swearing and playing adult games with adult themes and talking about these topics. Alongside this gaming content, fans can also share inappropriate comments which can be rude, bullying or hateful. Twitch does have some chat moderation that tries to pick up on and stop extremism or hate in the chat but given the volume of livestream and Twitch interactions there are limits to what this moderation achieves.

Connecting with others

There is rapid chat on Twitch which is often coded and difficult to understand if you are not familiar with the slang and gaming references being used. The chat is a significant aspect of Twitch which runs alongside all live games and you cannot switch it off, although it can be hidden if you chose to. It is possible to restrict who can contact you directly in your contact settings - direct contacts are referred to as ‘Whispers’. Speak to your child about the risks of chatting with strangers and explain the importance of not sharing any personal or identifiable information with other users within chats. Remind younger users that conversations should only be about the content they are viewing and encourage them to tell you if they have been asked more personal questions or to chat privately using a different app.

User behaviour

Children and young people who watch livestreams may want to broadcast and stream their own content. It’s important to talk to them about the risks of livestreaming in which they may be broadcasting or streaming unedited content about themselves to anyone on the site. Encourage them to think about what they put into their broadcasts, their language, their background and their digital footprint more generally.

Design, data and costs

Twitch is free and paid for by adverts. There is a significant amount of exposure to adverts on Twitch including gaming adverts and general adverts. However, users can be drawn into using ‘Bits’ to show their appreciation for their favourite gamer, or even into making a donation directly which is also possible within the app.

Users can follow their favourite gamers for free but if they want to follow their channel they will have to subscribe. If a user subscribes to an individual broadcaster, this will also cost them money. It is important to be aware that Twitch is lucrative for games and some games have made a lot of money from the platform through adverts, donations and subscriptions.

Twitch can be massively popular with children and young people who love gaming. Like gaming itself, watching others game can be absorbing for children and young people - they may need boundaries to support them from not watching extended hours of livestream.


Tips for keeping your child safe

  • There’s no specific information on the Twitch app or website to give parents or carers advice on how to keep their child safe using the app. Instead, you will need to look at the settings on the individual mobile device to put controls in place.

    To set to ‘Private’ on iOS:

    • Go to the ‘Game centre’ in the settings on your iPhone.
    • Scroll down to ‘Privacy and settings’ and change your ‘Profile privacy’ to ‘Only you’.

    To set to ‘Private’ on Android:

    • Go to the ‘Play games’ app, touch the menu icon and click ‘Settings’.
    • Select ‘Game profile’ > ‘Play now’ > ‘Your game profile’.
    • Adjust your visibility and notifications settings to the most private options.
  • You can prevent your child receiving direct private messages from a stranger by setting the contact settings to people your child knows. However, group chats are public and you cannot stop others from chatting to your child or shut off the chat function. Twitch users with an account can choose to set some chat filters to block hate speech and sexually explicit language, but because of the volume and speed of live chat these may not block everything. You can also disable gifting in settings.

    To change the contact settings:

    • Go to the settings menu and select ‘Security and privacy’.
    • Choose the option to ‘Block whispers from strangers’.

    To enable chat filters:

    • Go to the settings menu within the chat function.
    • Select ‘Chat settings’ and then toggle the ‘Enable filtering in chat’ to on.
  • You can report and block users who may be bothering you or behaving inappropriately on the platform.

    To block another user:

    • Find the username of the user you wish to block.
    • Select their username and then the 3 dots icon.
    • Select ‘Block username’.
  • Whilst there are no settings within Twitch to help manage time or purchases, you can disable in-app purchases on each individual device itself.

    To disable in-app purchases on iPhone:

    • Go to settings > ‘Screen time’ and scroll down to ‘Content and privacy restrictions’.
    • Select ‘iTunes and App store purchases’ and set the option to ‘Don’t allow’.

    To disable in-app purchases on Android:

    • Go to your ‘Google Play Store’ app.
    • Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Require authentication for purchases’.

Key features and terminology

  • Whispers

    Direct messages between users in Twitch

    Channels

    Particular interest area or content being livestreamed by a specific gamer or influencer.

    Bit

    In-platform currency that viewers can use to cheer or show appreciation and support for the streamer they're watching through the chat function.

General tips

Check that the games your child is viewing in Twitch are games that you would actually allow them to play outside of the site. There can be a significant amount of adult content in the games that are broadcast on Twitch. It is possible to click on ‘Not interested’ when offered mature content on Twitch so that your child is then less likely to be recommended and offered mature content.

If your child is spending a lot of time watching other gamers live stream, it is important to have a look at the people and channels that your child watches. Talk to them about this and try to ensure that they are watching streams that are age-appropriate in terms of content and reactions.