What is Twitch?
Description: Twitch is one of the most popular live streaming services. Users can watch their favorite streamers play video games, talk about politics, commentate on sports, host unique events, and be exposed to a large portion of LIVE content.
Category: Photo & Video
APP Store rating:
- Apple: 17+ (Infrequent/Mild Profanity, Crude Humor, Cartoon or Fantasy Violence, Realistic Violence, Horror/Fear Themes, Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes)
- Google Play: 13+
To get a glimpse of what Twitch is like, check out the 2023 Streamer Awards (like the Oscars, but for streamers)
What do Parents Need to Know about Twitch?
Twitch is massively popular. There is a whole culture dedicated to online streamers, that reaches far past the gaming community. Twitch is owned by Amazon and boasts over 140 million viewers monthly. According to Twitch Tracker, there’s around 2.4 million viewers on average, at any given moment.
Twitch can be a real time-waster. And in the fall, they are going to be adding Short-form videos and Stories, similar to TikTok or YouTube Shorts. This will greatly increase screen time on Twitch.
It’s more than watching people play video games. “Just Chatting” is a genre on Twitch full of non-gamer related content. Most of the time, the streamer simply interacts with their chat while doing some project or task, or reacting to some news or drama. However, some of the top Just Chatting streamers are usually inappropriate for kids. Whether that is a hot-tub stream (yes, girls in bikini’s livestreaming from a hot tub), body painting, or making suggestive sounds into the microphone (ASMR). Streamers are required to label their streams based on the content, with specific tags, so this helps make inappropriate content easier to detect without being exposed to it. And not all of the genre’s content are sexual, there are political commentators, drama channels, sports highlights, etc. But again, most of the top streamers (which are shown first when viewing a genre) are highly inappropriate. Be careful!
Special Events are becoming more popular on Twitch, such as 24 hour livestreams, or even a simulated parody of semi-professional baseball. If one your kid’s favorite streamers has a special event coming up, be prepared for them to do nothing but watch the stream. With some lasting 4 hours long, and others going ALL day.
Mature Games. Mature games, especially 1st person shooters, are extremely common on Twitch. “Battle Royal” games, such as Call of Duty: Warzone, are a fan favorite. The intensity of only having one winner creates a captivating story to victory, and people love to watch streamers rage when they lose too. There’s also a growing community for horror games, as people enjoy watching others get jump scared and nervously wander through scary games.
Twitch on Gaming Consoles. Most gaming consoles have access to the Twitch app, which means they could have another account made using their profile on the console. Be sure to check in on your kid’s devices to ensure they aren’t hiding any alternate accounts.
How does Twitch Work?
Once you’re logged in, click the game or genre you like and then click a streamer to watch. The most popular Twitch streamers have millions of followers, and hundreds of millions of channel views. Streamers earn money from ads, affiliate marketing, subscribers, and donators.
Live-streaming is risky. Live is, well, LIVE. What streamers say and do goes out immediately, so the content is unpredictable. However, Twitch is not afraid to ban people from their site for showing explicit material or saying extreme slurs.
Twitch bannings have often been controversial, as many streamers ride the line between “too explicit” and not technically breaking community guidelines. For some people, livestreaming is their entire career and livelihood. Popular streamers are rather careful not to cross the black and white lines, but many still operate in the gray. If your child is exposed to something egregious, reporting it will almost surely get the streamer banned, especially if they have a larger audience.
Live chat is even more risky. Moderating a livestream with thousands of users is difficult. With chat bots pasting links to websites, scammers pretending to be other famous streamers, hackers, trolls, it’s hard enough to monitor the streamers themselves – it’s nearly impossible to monitor a live chat with thousands of people commenting each second.
Whispers. Users can also send direct messages, called Whispers. However, this feature can be limited to those you follow by going into the settings.
Twitch is owned by Amazon, so ads are everywhere. You’ll see mature movie and game ads as well as fast-food commercials (A Turbo account eliminates ads for $11.99/month).
Donating. Streamers will often ask for donations, or have an open donation slot running. Twitch currency is called “Bits.” Users can buy them to give to streamers (streamers earn $0.01 per Bit). Users can also sign up for monthly subscriptions to their favorite streamers, giving them special access to more content or custom chat emoji’s. Donations often come with a note attached. It’s common curtesy for the streamer to read the note on stream as a thank you for the donation. This creates a sort of feedback loop similar to social media. When your note gets read to thousands of people by one of your favorite content creators, you can’t help but experience dopamine rushing through your brain.
The Bottom Line – is Twitch Safe for your Kids?
Due to the live streaming aspect to Twitch, the Just Chatting genre, and the lack of good controls, we don’t recommend keeping your tweens and teens away from Twitch. Apple says 17+ due to mature content. Parents would be wise to listen.
2 amazing ways to keep tabs on an app like Twitch:
- Stay current on the digital landscape by registering to receive our free, PYE Download newsletter.
- Are you interested in having greater insight into apps like Twitch? Bark is one of the best solutions we’ve tested. They’re constantly looking for ways to keep parents informed about text and images in an app like Twitter. We trust them and we think you should, too!
*There might be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!