A guide to live streaming

What is live streaming?

Live streaming technology lets you watch, create
and share videos in real time, a bit like live TV. All you need to be able to
live stream is an internet enabled device, like a smart phone or tablet, and a
platform (such as a website or app) to live stream from.

Current popular live streaming apps include
Facebook Live, Instagram Live stories, Twitch TV, f1 streams (often used by the gaming
community), House Party and TikTok.

Unlike pre-recorded videos that can be cut and
edited, live streaming is just that – live and uncensored.

Some live streams can be private. For example,
video conferencing, like Skype or Zoom, uses live streaming technology to allow
you to talk to people you have invited. To make sure they stay private, they
should be password protected and passwords shouldn’t be shared with people you
don’t know.

Some live streams are public and might be watched
by hundreds or even thousands of people.

Viewers can comment and interact live by posting
messages that appear beside the live stream. They can also share emojis such as
hearts, and gifts such as coins which appear on the screen.

Why is live streaming

The inspiration to live stream comes from reality
TV and YouTube, where you can broadcast anything you are doing, right there in
the moment, all across the world.

Live streaming is appealing to children and young
people, particularly primary aged children. It gives them a chance to be a
creator, a presenter and to be seen and heard by an audience and connect to
their favourite celebrities or content creators.

Many live streamers love the sense of being ‘in the
moment’ and interacting with family, friends, or even a global
audience. From a birthday message to loved ones, to a topical Q&A or a
talent showcase, there are endless opportunities to broadcast fun, important,
or exciting moments live.

Viewing live streams lets children and young people
connect with their own favourite live streamers. They share comments with other
viewers and even interact directly with influencers or celebrities.

When used in positive way, live streaming is an
excellent tool for children and young people to create identity and develop
confidence and communication skills.

Children and young people enjoy getting attention
and praise, and self-expression is important for development. Sharing something
and getting positive feedback from others can be the ultimate confidence boost
and build their self-esteem.

Live streaming also allows children and young
people to connect with people with similar interests, views and going through
similar experiences. This can help some young people feel less socially

Live streamers can also receive financial rewards,
which is an exciting goal for some young people. For example, audiences can
gift virtual coins which can be turned into money.

What are the concerns
with live streaming?

There are several factors that can make watching or
creating live streams potentially harmful for children and young people.

·       Content. If they’re watching other
people’s live streams, children could be exposed to age inappropriate content,
including sexual or violent content.

·       Offensive comments. If a young person’s live
stream is open to the public, viewers may be able to leave negative or
inappropriate comments on feeds.

·       Live streaming is ‘in the moment’. Live
streaming is ‘in the moment’ which increases the risk of children and young
people acting on impulse.

·       Do things they wouldn’t do offline. Children,
like adults, can feel more confident when they are online as they feel
protected by the screen. This can result in them saying or doing something
they’d be less likely to do offline.

·       Digital footprints. If a live streamer
makes a mistake, shares personal details, or broadcasts offensive or
inappropriate material, they are doing so in public. It’s possible for viewers
to record a livestream, and it could be posted online or shared more widely. 

  • Inappropriate contact. There
    can be hundreds, potentially thousands, of people watching a live stream,
    including people who might be looking to hurt or exploit children and
    young people. In order to manipulate children, these people may attempt to
    trick them into engaging in sexual activity, flatter them with positive
    comments or gifts, or make threats to try to force them to do things they
    don’t want to do.

How you can help your child be safer while live streaming

There are some practical steps you can take to help
keep your child safe if they are using an app or website with a live streaming

Talk to them. The best way you can protect your
child is to talk to them. Not just once, but have ongoing conversations as part
of your family life. Having these discussions little and often is more
effective than one big chat.

Talking to your child about the positive aspects of
being online and not just the risks will help your child to talk more openly
about their internet use, including anything that worries them.

Use devices in public
young people grow up, they often seek more privacy and autonomy in both their
offline and online world. Younger children should be closely supervised by an
adult and live streaming should not take place in a private space, like the
bedroom or bathroom.

Practice and prepare. Advise them to practice and
prepare before they go live. This will minimise the risk of errors, or
off-script activity.

Privacy and safety settings. Go through the privacy and safety
settings with your child. With younger children make sure only trusted friends
and family they know offline  can view their online profiles and videos.

Be wary of requests to chat in
who are seeking to harm children may try and move them from a public area of an
app to a private area to have conversations that are likely to be less
moderated. Remind your child to be wary of people they meet online who want to
chat to them in private, away way from other people.

Support and Reporting. It’s really important to make sure
your child knows where to go for support if they need it, and how to report
concerns. Remind them that they can always speak to you or an adult they trust
if they are worried. Support them to identify trusted sources and organisations
on the internet such as Brook, The Mix and Childline.

Talk to them about how to report directly to
social media platforms or CEOP if they’re concerned about
contact from an adult.


a conversation with your child about live streaming doesn’t need to be scary or

Here’s a
few ideas to get you started.

Age appropriate news or TV stories. Use an appropriate story to ask your child what advice
they would give to the person in this situation. Together you can discuss some
of the practical steps a person could take.

Photo versus live streaming. Ask your child if they think there are any
differences between a photo being shared online and a live stream. You can use
this conversation to reinforce the message that although live streaming seems
in the moment, anyone watching could be recording and saving it, just like with
a photo

Likes and views. Ask
your child for their opinion on likes and views on social media and what it
means to them or their friends. For example, how do likes make them feel and do
they think the likes they get are all genuine? This can help you to start a
conversation about why someone they don’t know might be liking their online



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