What is live streaming?
Live streaming is the broadcasting of real-time, live video to an audience over the internet. All you need to be able to live stream is an internet-enabled device, like a smart phone or tablet, and a platform to broadcast on.
Why are live streaming platforms so popular?
Live streaming is appealing to children and young people as it gives them the chance to be a creator, a presenter and to be seen by an audience. You can broadcast anything you are doing across the world without delay or edit. With the popularity of live streaming platforms, such as YouNow and TikTok, continuing to rise, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have also developed live streaming functions.
What are the opportunities and risks of live streaming?
Used in positive ways, live streaming can be used as a campaigning tool, create identity, showcase talent and develop communication skills.
For young people, sharing something live and having people show an interest as they broadcast can feel like the ultimate confidence boost.
Despite the opportunities and gratification that live streaming presents, it's important to remember that live streaming can be unpredictable and hard to moderate which is understandably worrying for parents and carers. There have been stories in the news about live streaming being used to broadcast abusive or harmful behaviour and children viewing inappropriate live streamed content that they weren't expecting to see.
As with any form of social media, there are risks such as:
- Receiving negative comments;
- Sharing more personal information than intended;
- Contact from strangers;
- Possible exposure to sexualised content
There's also the risk of losing control of a streamed video as there's nothing to stop it being recorded, shared, and being used to threaten or blackmail.
Therefore it’s important to have on-going conversations with your child about what they do and how they communicate online. This can include using age-appropriate Thinkuknow articles and recent news stories as opportunities to ask your child about their online behaviour, their views on live streaming and if it’s something that they currently do or have thought of taking part in.
You can use this to then talk more broadly about how to keep safe online, how to report directly to social media platforms and what else they can do to help them to have positive online experiences.
For more information on responding to the risks of live streaming read Live streaming: responding to the risks.