Live streaming is becoming more popular as nearly anyone can do it if they have a phone or tablet and can use a platform that supports it. There are a lot of benefits to streaming, but like anything there are some risks.

Why is live streaming popular?

Basically anyone can live stream. This gives creators the opportunity to share anything they want with family, friends or followers. On the flipside, it provides people with the opportunity to follow people they like or who have a similar interest.

Live streams aren’t as passive as other types of video content online. You can engage with the streamer by taking part in the ‘stream chat’ (a dedicated chatroom for the streamer and it’s viewers). It’s a kind of virtual companionship where people can choose how much they want to be involved. Popular streamers have followers who create a community around their content and personality which encourages people to continue tune in regularly to their favourite streamers.

Why do people pay money for a stream?

On some platforms people have the ability to pay money or be paid for a stream. If a ‘donation’ is made streamers will usually read out the username of the person who made the donation along with a message they can attach to it. This can make it feel more like a reciprocal relationship.

People who have paid to subscribe to a streamer on Twitch are given access to custom emojis they can use in chat to show that they are a part of the community. Some times large sums of money can be donated because people feel pressured to be noticed.

What platforms can you live stream on?

You can live stream on many popular and free to use platforms including Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope and Twitch.

What are some of the risks to live streaming?

Live streaming is different to video calling as it doesn’t enable two-way audio and video communication. As live streams are moderated retrospectively, you will see content that is uncensored and potentially harmful to the people in the stream.

Live broadcasts form part of your digital footprint so it’s important to think about the content you’re sharing. Live stream platforms record the content you create and  make it available to replay after the stream has finished. This happens by default on most platforms including YouTube, Twitch and Facebook. Things that are said or done ‘in the moment’ can become a permanent part of a persons online identity.

For the streamers, one challenge is that viewers are often anonymous and can hide behind usernames that obscure their identity making it impossible to know who’s watching you.

What is Netsafe’s advice?

  1. Each platform has different rules and expectations about what behaviours they expect from their users. Take the time to read the safety and security features of the live stream site you use
  2. Understand if your live streaming site allows you to adopt a monthly subscription or gives you the ability donate to a ‘favourite’
  3. Take the time to explore the live streaming site you want to use as not every site offers a live streaming feature that is suitable for every person
  4. Consider enabling the security and safety settings which includes disabling locations services
  5. Be careful about broadcasting from your home. Try to leave out any landmarks or identifiable locations.

WHAT’S NETSAFE ADVICE FOR PARENTS?

Sometimes kids will live stream in their rooms which can lead them to breaching their own privacy and potentially being tricked into doing things they shouldn’t be doing online. It’s also important to understand if the apps your children are using enable them to make in-app purchases. If your device is connected to a bank account your child might be able to purchase anything.

We recommend teaching your child the online safety basics and having regular and open conversations with them about what they are seeing and doing online. We know this helps to mitigate the potential harm if your child has an online experience that upsets them or makes them uncomfortable.

Our Parent Toolkit offers practical tips and tools and shares insights into the five main challenges young people experience online. It will help you start the conversation with your tamaraki about online safety – and have ongoing conversations.

CONTACT NETSAFE

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.