Updated: December 19, 2020
What is Twitch? Is it safe?
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:
- Apple: 17+ (infrequent: simulated gambling, fantasy & realistic violence, mild sexual content and nudity, mature themes, profanity and crude humor, drug use).
- Google Play: 13+
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. This Twitch Tracker shows that there are multiple millions of gamers live-streaming constantly.
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.
Live-streaming is risky – and Twitch is all about live streaming. Live is, well, LIVE. What gamers say and do goes out immediately, so the content is unpredictable.
Twitch is a dream come true for gamers. 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.
Does Twitch have violent video games? Twitch does have mild favorites like Minecraft, but many are mature, including Fallout and Call of Duty.
Twitch has 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.
Twitch is owned by 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.
There’s a TwitchTV App for Xbox. This page from Twitch TV 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.
(December 9, 2020) Twitch is getting serious about hate and harassing speech with policy updates. They will now be looking at the content and impact of a harassment claim instead of the intent.
The bottom line – is Twitch safe for your kids?
Due to the live streaming aspect to Twitch, we are hesitant to recommend for anything younger than high school. Apple says 17+ due to mature content. Parents would be wise to listen.