Is the Twitch App Safe?
A complete app review for parents.
Twitch App Details:
Description: Twitch lets you instantly watch broadcasts of the games you love and chat with the players you follow. Features include (from the iTunes App Store):
- Live & recorded video of top games, players, and events.
- Full-featured chat, including chat-only mode, even if the channel is offline.
- Ability to follow channels and games you want to keep track of.
- Push notifications when the channels you follow are live.
- A Notification Center widget to see top or followed channels from the lock screen.
Related article: Twitch Gamers Stream 9.6 Billion Hours in 2018!
APP Store rating: 12+ (infrequent: simulated gambling, fantasy & realistic violence, mild sexual content and nudity, mature themes, profanity and crude humor, drug use).
What do parents need to know about Twitch? Are there parental controls?
Twitch is massively popular. Twitch is owned by Amazon and boasts over 100 million viewers monthly. Watching someone else play a game doesn’t make sense if you’re not a gamer, but for many enthusiasts, it’s akin to watching reality television. There were 1.1 million years of live gaming content streamed and viewed during 2018. Let that sink in!
Once you’re logged in, click the game you like and then click a live stream of people playing the game. The most popular Twitch streamers, have millions of followers, and hundreds of millions of channel views (crazy!). Broadcasters (same as streamers) earn $$ based on the number of subscribers.
Many of the games are violent. Twitch does have mild favorites like Minecraft, but many are mature, including Fallout and Call of Duty.
There’s plenty of mature language. Twitch has rules against getting too graphic, but kids will definitely hear and see swear words from the various commentators. There’s just no way to block it all as millions of gamers are commenting and speaking during game play. Chat is available on all streams. Users can hide it, but there is no way to turn it off. Direct messages, called Whispers, can be sent to other users. A user can set who is able to send them messages.
It’s Amazon, so of course, there’s advertising galore. You’ll see mature movie and game ads as well as fast-food commercials (A Turbo account eliminates ads for $8.99/mo.). There is also a Twitch currency called ‘Bits.’ Users can buy them to give to streamers to cheer them on (streamers earn $0.01 per Bit). Streamers will also ask for donations. Users can also sign up for monthly subscriptions to their favorite streamers. The user will gain special privileges like private chats.
Twitch can be a real time-waster. If you have screen time concerns, then Twitch will drive you crazy, as there’s an endless supply of gamers, information, and other gamer swag.
On the other hand, for kids who love gaming, Twitch is a dream come true. There’s definitely a community-like feel to many who enjoy the platform. Gamers stick together and Twitch gives young gamers a place to connect with like-minded peers. In April 2019, Twitch added a feature called Squad Streamers. Up to four gamers can stream their game on one screen at the same time.
Live-streaming is risky. Live is, well, LIVE. What gamers say and do goes out immediately, so the content is unpredictable.
There’s a TwitchTV App for Xbox. This page from Xbox explains how it works. Parents do have a nice suite of parental controls available to them on the Xbox, but there are a lot of steps required to set it up, which we explain in detail on our Xbox page.
The bottom line – is Twitch safe for your kids?
Due to the live streaming aspect to Twitch, we are hesitant to recommend for tweens unless mom and dad are very involved and their kids are equipped to know how to handle what they’re seeing. For teens, parents still need to be aware of the content, but it’s probably ok. The App Store rating is a little light at 12+, but there’s nothing between 12+ and 17+, so it’s as accurate as it can be.