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A Parent’s Guide to Twitch

To anyone over the age of 25, the idea of watching someone else play a video game for hours can seem a little strange. But with millions of users, Twitch is extremely popular, especially with the elementary-aged set. Here’s what you should know about Twitch.

What Is Twitch, Exactly?

Twitch is a video streaming platform. People called ‘streamers’ broadcast live video (or, ‘live streams’) of themselves playing video games. Twitch users can watch, post comments, and tip the streamer they’re watching.

Twitch is also a big business. It’s owned by Amazon and takes in millions of dollars every year.

Does It Cost Money?

Users can have a free account and pay nothing. However, the site does run ads. A paid account, which costs around the same as Neflix every month, disables the ads. Users can also put money in an online wallet, which they can use to tip streamers.

And It Can Make Money?

Some streamers are there as a full-time job. And not a bad job either; some streamers make thousands of dollars per month.

Obviously, the idea of maybe making money from playing video games appeals to a lot of children using the site. But while it’s obviously possible to be a full-time Twitch streamer, the vast majority of Twitch streamers aren’t making much money. If your child or teen has dreams of becoming a professional streamer, you may have to temper that with discussions about working hard. After all, streamers who make real money on Twitch treat their job just like a real job.

And Kids Use It?

Kids both watch streams and broadcast their own. The Twitch terms of service say that users have to be 13. Lots of kids choose to bypass the age requirement to watch streams with relative ease. However, Twitch is very firm about their streamers being 13 and over.

What Should Parents Be Aware Of?

Games can be violent. It’s true that most younger kids stick to Minecraft. However, there are more violent games like Call of Duty that might not fly in your household.

Mature language may also be something to consider. Users can and do use vulgar language in the comments and sometimes streamers swear. It is live, after all.

Nothing sexual or x-rated is permitted.

Twitch can be a real time sink. If you’re concerned about screen time, know that Twitch can consume a great deal of time and be hard to disengage from.

What’s the Safest Way to Use Twitch?

Make sure your child, particularly if they’re young, uses Twitch in a public area of your home.

Before your child subscribes to a Twitch stream, it pays to watch it a bit yourself. Is this streamer the kind of person you want influencing your child?

Make your expectations to your child clear. Maybe you don’t want them watching streams of certain kinds of games or using certain language. Make it clear to your child before they start using Twitch what your expectations are and what the consequences for violating those expectations will be.