Your kid wants to be a streamer?

Your kid wants to be a streamer?


How to help them 'go live' safely

As a child, what job did you dream you'd do when you grew up? An astronaut? A musician? A 2019 poll commissioned by the Lego Group found that vlogger/YouTuber was a more popular aspiration than either.

In today's connected world, that's a very broad term—there are all sorts of online creator paths available now. So let's talk live streaming, offered by most social platforms to enable users to broadcast real-time video of themselves across the internet. Your school careers advisor might not have suggested it, but it's an increasingly viable path in modern society—one that even offers fame and fortune to a lucky few.

Kids aren’t waiting till they’re adults either, streaming content straight from their bedrooms or the local park—at this very minute and at all hours of the day. So if your child wants to be a streamer, what do you need to know?

What is live streaming exactly?


In short, it’s broadcasting live video on the internet—on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat as well as dedicated platforms like Twitch. Unlike vlogging, the broadcast happens in real time, unedited. Friends, family and – depending on your privacy settings—the wider world can watch, ‘like’ and comment in real time.

As mobile data speeds increase and free WiFi is widely available, it’s pretty easy for anyone with a smartphone to stream themselves or tune in on the fly. On most social networks, you can browse by channel or subject. If you like what you find, you can follow individual streamers to see more of their content.


Teenager live streaming at home

Is live streaming safe for children?


Nearly all social networking sites require users to be 13 or above to stream. YouTube, for example, bars under 13s from live streaming unless they are visibly accompanied by an adult. Twitch says over 13s who are considered minors may only use the service under the supervision of an adult.

Still, age requirements are not watertight. In 2022, Ofcom found that a third of children aged five to seven, and two thirds of eight to 11-year-olds, regularly used sites that came with a higher age restriction.

Can live streaming be a good thing?


Yes, according to EE partner Internet Matters—the not-for-profit dedicated to helping parents keep their children safe online. Streaming can keep friends and family in the loop, it can be highly creative, and there’s a benefit attached to broadcasting ‘in the moment’ and interacting with viewers.

There’s the prospect of fame and fortune for the lucky few who make it too. Streaming is one way to build a personal brand, and successful channels can make a lot of money in the process. According to YouTube’s data, channels featuring a weekly live stream get up to 40% more subscribers. And subscribers mean cash. In June 2023, one of Twitch’s most popular streamers, Félix Lengyel (AKA xQc) signed a two-year $100 million contract with rival streaming platform Kick. A man who broadcasts himself playing video games to nearly 12 million followers earns more than most professional athletes and megastars.


Young child watching content online at home

What about risks of live streaming?


Streaming can help build confidence, creativity and help your child connect with like-minded people, say the experts at Internet Matters. But as with most things, there are pitfalls to look out for.

Kids watching live streams could be exposed to inappropriate and upsetting content (an innocent title is no guarantee that the material is the same). Chat and private messaging functions can aid positive interaction, but equally could be channels for cyberbullying and even grooming.

If your child is actively streaming, there are other considerations. Might there be an impact on their self-esteem if they attract negative comments, or fail to amass followers? Might they accidentally reveal too much of their personal identity, or stream something they might later regret?

My child wants to start streaming. What should I do?


Talk to them. Be curious and open-minded about kids’ interest in streaming, and encourage them to think critically about their engagement with it. What are their motivations for getting involved? What about streaming makes them feel good about themselves?

Give it a go together. Internet Matters recommends watching streamers together with your kids to educate yourself and spark more open conversations.


Mother and her child watching online content together

Make a ‘just in case’ plan. Kids need to be aware of the options available to them if they see something harmful or troubling—from how to use each app’s privacy settings to blocking others and reporting bad content. Plan ahead with your child to make sure support channels are in place if they ever feel pressured to do something that makes them uncomfortable.

Put privacy first. Internet Matters advises encouraging kids to ‘go live’ somewhere that doesn’t share too many personal clues. Wearing school uniform is another big no-no from a privacy perspective. The NSPCC points out too that you can’t edit content after broadcast. Any streamer should therefore think about exactly what they want to say before going live.

Shake on it. Print out the Internet Matters ‘family online agreement’, then fill it out and stick it to the fridge. Here you can lay out the ground rules that you have agreed as a family, and identify monitoring tools to help you. Parental Controls on EE’s intuitive app will help you control what your kids can access and when.

Get PhoneSmart. EE has partnered with expert charities in the field, including Internet Matters, the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Childnet International, to create the PhoneSmart Licence for kids aged 10-13. Five animated episodes and quizzes cover the big issues—from cyberbullying to fake news—to help parents empower their children with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe and happy online. And who knows—maybe it could help inspire the next internet sensation?

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