What is Twitch? What parents need to know

The Twitch logo on a smartphone with speech bubbles around it.

What is Twitch and is it suitable for children?

Learn about the platform and its safety features to support your child’s safety and digital wellbeing.

What is Twitch?

Founded in 2011, Twitch is a live streaming platform popular among those interested in video games. Users can watch live or pre-recorded videos of gameplay while chatting to others in the stream via the website or Twitch app. Other available themes include IRL, Music, Esports and Creative.

However, the platform is very much geared towards the gaming community. As such, it also offers gaming news, product announcements, events and a community of fans who really love video games.

Additionally, Twitch broadcasts esports tournaments, which often offer large sums of prize money to professional players.

Twitch is available across devices.

What is needed to use Twitch?

  • An internet-enabled device (computer, laptop, TV, phone or tablet)
  • Access to the website or Twitch app
  • A Twitch account to stream or participate in chat. However, users can watch streams without needing to login

What is the age minimum?

To use Twitch, users must be at least 13-years-old. However, the Terms of Service also require anyone under 18 to only use Twitch under parent supervision.

Accounts found to belong to a user under 13 will be terminated.

The Apple App Store gives the Twitch app a 17+ age rating while the Google Play Store rates it suitable for Teens.

How Twitch works

A user can set up a Twitch account to watch their favourite streaming channels, but it is not required. However, to can set up their own channel or participate in comments and other features, users must create an account.

Using Twitch as a viewer

As a viewer, you can watch live gameplay or archived videos by browsing various categories. A Twitch broadcast or stream often includes a video with an audio commentary from the player and the recording of the video game itself.

Users will also see a live chat option where, at times, the streamer can respond — sometimes in the chat or sometimes as they talk. Moreover, users can also talk to other viewers through the chat or via private messages.

Viewers can either follow their favourite streamer for free or subscribe to their channel for a monthly fee.

Using Twitch as a streamer

As a streamer, users create a channel and broadcast live gameplay, esports, music or IRL (in real life) content. IRL is designed for users to share glimpses into their day-to-day life.

Streamers can also earn money from the platform in various ways:

  • Charging a subscription fee: Starting at $4.99 USD per month, subscriptions allow viewers to support a channel and see exclusive content. Streamers can charge tiered subscriptions to offer different experiences to users.
  • Receiving ‘Bits’: Bits are virtual gifts that viewers can give to streamers during a live stream. When a viewer ‘Cheers’ for the streamer, they share a Bit. The streamer earns $0.01 USD for every Bit in a chat.
  • Running ads: Streamers can add breaks to their streams and run ads to earn money. Streamers can customise when the break happens mid-stream, but not all viewers will necessarily see the ad. These ads work similarly to those on YouTube, and the streamer does not control which ads are shown or to whom.
  • Getting sponsored: Just like on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms, streamers can get sponsored by third-party companies. This often involves promoting a product for pay, whether they use it or not.

Why is Twitch so popular?

  • The gaming community: Gameplay streams offer live commentary, creating a sense of belonging among gamers. Also, a lot of young people watch gameplay streams because they like the video game and can talk to others who do too.
  • Potential to earn money: Most streamers broadcast as a hobby, but some have made successful careers from it. Because Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014, the platform is integrated with Amazon Prime. As such, streamers can make money by offering in-stream links through which viewers can purchase streamed games. Other ways streamers can earn money is through ads, subscriptions and Bits.
  • Reviews of popular games: The biggest games usually streamed on Twitch are the ones that are most popular. These include Minecraft, Fortnite and Rocket League. Some streamers may get early access to a new game, which they live stream and review for their viewers.

5 tips to keep kids safe on Twitch

  • Use Twitch in common areas: Set aside a common area in the house such as the living room or kitchen where your child can watch or stream on Twitch. In line with the Terms of Service, doing this helps you to supervise your child’s use of the platform.
  • Talk about Twitch’s safety features: Your child has tools as both a streamer and viewer. Talk with them about what these features look like and how to use them in the web browser and via the Twitch app. Give them the insight into why and when to use these tools. See our step-by-step guide to help.
  • Watch with them: Showing an interest in the streams they watch and the video games they like shows them you support them. Watching videos together also gives you insight into what they see and helps you address any potential risks that come up.
  • Learn about live streaming: If your child shows interest in streaming or creating videos themselves, make sure you know what that means. Learn about the potential benefits and risks so they can live stream safely.
  • Agree on time limits: As a viewer, screen time on Twitch is often very passive. Set limits on how long they can spend watching Twitch versus doing other activities like learning and creating. Learn more about screen time.
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