If you have kids, you’re likely well aware that Twitch is the hot new tech platform. The livestreaming site owned by Amazon boasts over 15 million viewers daily and is the powerful driving force behind the booming esports industry. Much like how previous generations watch professional athletes demonstrate their elite gaming skills on the field, today, there’s a growing generation drawn to watch elite video gamers go head-to-head in streamed broadcasts.
When watching a professional sport, the athletes are busy playing, so their moves are explained by sports commentators. However, on Twitch gamers typically play the role of both elite gamer and commentator. Without regulation on their commentary and with some games’ violent nature, it’s hard to know which channels are appropriate for young viewers.
Fear not! Here’s a handy rundown of what parents need to know, as well as some recommended gamers who produce family-friendly content.
Setting Twitch Safe-Guards
- Are your kids 13+? Twitch’s Terms of Service sets the expectation that no one should be watching Twitch who’s under 13, and that for those under 18, they should have adult supervision. While kids under 13 certainly can access content by visiting Twitch’s site, in theory, the expectation is that they shouldn’t. With that in mind, a good rule of thumb is that all Twitch content (unless it’s marketed as being in a family-friendly niche) tends to compare to PG-13 or R rated films.
- Which games are streaming? Typically, each streamer is known for their dedication to a specific gaming genre. Just as you may not allow your kids to play violent games, you want to ensure that they’re also not watching those games. Seek out streamers who play games with an E or E 10+ rating. “Building games” like Minecraft and Roblox are particularly well-suited for young viewers.
- Disable Messages. Twitch features options for messaging and chatting. To protect against unsolicited messages, disable the feature on kids’ accounts. Go to Settings > Security & Privacy to block “whispers” and invitations for group chats. While you can’t disable the chatroom feature, you can mute people within them by hovering over usernames clicking the Ignore button.
- Watch Out for In-App Purchases. If kids have access to a credit card while in Twitch, there’s ample people and buttons who’ll try to entice them into making in-app purchases. Proceed with caution!
Watch Streamers on Mixer or YouTube
When speaking about the genre of “gaming livestream,” people often think it’s synonymous with only Twitch, but there are various platforms for watching streams. Mixer and YouTube may be a more appropriate outlet for your kids.
- Mixer’s Family Friendly and Teen Filters. Mixer is Microsoft’s competitive offering to Twitch. However, it’s better for kids because it also allows parents to enable a family friendly or teen filter.
- YouTube Parent Controls. Given YouTube’s status as the go-to site for all online video content, YouTube also attracts gaming influencers. With YouTube, you can easily enact parent controls.
Subscribe to the Right Channels
As mentioned, gaming livestream has a two-fold appeal: watching gameplay and enjoying the entertaining commentary from the actual streamer. No matter how kid-friendly the games may be, if the channel’s host is vulgar, you’ll want to guard your kids on this front as well. With that in mind, here are a few channels to explore:
- CaptainSparklez—CaptainSparklez is run by gamer Jordan Maron and is one of his many channels. While not every channel is appropriate for kids, CaptainSparklez is his most popular and Jordan keeps his young viewers in mind while crafting content. With over 10 million YouTube followers on CaptainSparklez, it’s one of the most popular Minecraft channels out there.
- Banzai Babies—This channel is designed in the spirit of Saturday morning cartoons. While video game content does show up at times, the channel’s typically more in the spirit of Bill Nye the Science Guy, with host Banzai demonstrating to viewers various crafts and DIY projects.
- StampyLonghead—This YouTube channel is probably the best Minecraft channel for young kids, appropriate for kids as young as 6. Watching this is like watching a modern version of PeeWee Herman or Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood.
- OMGchad—Long before OMGchad launched his livestreaming career, he prioritized children’s entertainment. Working as a magician and even as a balloon artist, Chad loves providing a safe space to create wonder in kids’ lives. This comes through in his streams. With mild adult language at times, this channel is likely more appropriate for teens.
- Extra Life—There are several compelling charity activations on Twitch inviting viewers to fundraise. The most popular one is Extra Life which fundraises for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. With such an uplifting cause, the channel is always very heartwarming, but guest-hosts may occasionally use language that compares to PG-13 films.
- Popular MMOs—This popular YouTube Minecraft channel features a husband and wife who game together. Young girls often lack female gaming role-models, so it’s refreshing to see wife Jen offer them a glimpse into their passion.
- FabuRocks—Making this list as our favorite Mixer channel, tune in here to see the “FabuFam” sit down and play Roblox together. Playing video games with your kids can be a great way to bond with them. This channel both helps parents learn to play and entertains kids at the same time.
It used to be that parents could tune into kid-safe channels like Disney or Nickelodeon and then walk away. However, as entertainment has become dispersed across the internet, it now takes more parental oversight to ensure that all content is appropriate. This takes work, but if you put these recommendations into use and have a robust understanding of how gaming livestreams work, they can be a safe and entertaining outlet for the whole family.