A parents’ guide to Twitch
Twitch: Live Game Streaming
Watch Fortnite, PUBG & IRL TV
If your kids love videogames, chances are they’re into Twitch. Whether cheering on a League of Legends tournament or watching celebrities play Fortnite, Twitch users have plenty of viewing options, 24/7.
As a parent, you might be wondering what makes Twitch such a prime destination. Here’s what you need to know.
What exactly is it?
Twitch is a video-streaming platform that offers a fun, social way to watch people play games. Through the Twitch app (and online at Twitch.tv), gamers who broadcast their matches (known as streamers) play their favourite titles while providing running commentary on the action.
Launched in 2011, Twitch has grown into the largest livestreaming platform of its kind. More than 15 million people log in every day to watch streamers battle aliens, score goals and achieve victory royales.
Who’s streaming on Twitch?
Anybody can stream, but skilled players with larger-than-life personalities draw the biggest audiences. Some streamers have reached bona fide celebrity status.
Does Twitch have a social component? Will kids be talking to strangers?
Twitch viewers can type messages into a chat window to comment on the video stream – posting anything from “Sweet jump, dude!” to funny animated images called emotes. These messages are visible to both the streamer and fellow viewers.
In the app’s settings menu, you can prevent people from sending unsolicited private messages – called Whispers, in Twitch parlance.
How kid-appropriate is the content?
The unpredictable nature of livestreaming means adult language isn’t uncommon. Although Twitch doesn’t offer a typical suite of parental controls, there are several ways to filter content.
Tapping Add Filter lets you search by different content tags, such as Family Friendly or Educational, added by streamers. Viewers can completely hide a stream’s chat window by tapping an icon in the corner of the video (it looks like a speech bubble with a line through it).
Tapping on a user’s name in the chat allows you to block or report that person. Many popular streamers try to keep things clean and have chat filters in place that block bad words.
But keeping a watchful eye on your child’s Twitch use is best. (According to Twitch’s terms of service, only gamers 13 and older are allowed, and those under 18 must have parental supervision.)
More than 15 million people log on every day to watch their favourite streamers battle aliens, score goals and achieve victory royales.
How much does Twitch cost?
Twitch is free to download, and streams are free to watch. Some streamers offer monthly subscriptions that come with special perks, like the option to play alongside the host.
Twitch Turbo is a separate subscription option that removes ads from the service. Twitch users can also purchase a currency called Bits, which allows them to send Cheers to a streamer as a way of showing support.
What else can you watch on Twitch?
Twitch is overflowing with all kinds of gaming-related content, including charity fund-raising streams, massive esports tournaments and glitzy game awards shows.
But some channels don’t feature games at all. There are Twitch streamers who perform music, teach art or simply go about their daily lives with a camera pointed at them.