Social gaming and live streaming apps

If your child is gaming online, they may be using platforms to allow them to chat and communicate with other players or friends. Get advice on the latest social gaming and live streaming apps children are using to help them get the most out of their experience.

Social gaming and live streaming platforms

There are many game-specific chat rooms and ways to make friends online through consoles and other internet sites.
As well as large communities online, through internet forums and messaging websites like Reddit, each gaming platform has its own way of allowing users to communicate.

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41 % of parents whose children play video games say their child chats or communicate with other gamers on streaming services like Twitch and YouTube Gaming (source).

Here are some of popular gaming and live streaming platforms:

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64% of parents agree they see online gaming as posing the same risks to their child as using social media (source).

Twitch

Twitch is a live streaming platform where millions of users can watch live streams or pre-recorded video gameplay. Other available channels users can watch include music, sports, esports, and food.

Geared towards the gaming community, it also offers gaming news, product announcements, events, and a community of fans who really love games. Additionally, Twitch broadcasts lucrative esports tournaments, which offer large sums of prize money to professional players.

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Facebook Gaming

Facebook Gaming is a platform for all game-related content and like Twitch and YouTube Gaming, users can either watch pre-recorded videos, watch live stream gameplay, or record and stream gameplay. How it differs is that users can play games with friends such as Word with Friends, UNO, and more.

Steam

For PC and Apple Mac computers, one of the most popular platforms that you can buy and play games is Steam. It needs to be installed on a computer, be that desktop or laptop, and gives access to thousands of games. There is a game store and a way to load and play games that you’ve bought, but there is also a large community and social side.

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Discord

Discord is a platform for people with similar interests to share and communicate. It is popular among the gaming community as it offers a way for video game players to communicate with each other and develop a community outside of the games themselves.

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PlayStation

All PlayStation systems can be set up to have master accounts run by a parent and sub-accounts for children. A child’s profile will automatically restrict certain actions depending on the date of birth set for that child.

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Nintendo

Nintendo logoNintendo consoles are more family-friendly than most and therefore its chat functionality is a lot more geared to safe interaction for younger players. The Miiverse, for example, is a central hub where users can share pictures they have drawn and quick messages – think fun and friendly, family safe Twitter.

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YouTube Gaming

YouTube Gaming is a gamer-centric video platform rival to Twitch, since then it is no longer, instead, gamers log onto YouTube. It allows users to watch live and on-demand video game content with a live chat feature.

Xbox Live

Microsoft’s online service for its consoles is called Xbox Live and when you’re signed into the service you can chat to other Xbox Live members and befriend them. For Xbox One and Xbox 360 games consoles, you set up an Xbox Live profile when the console is first powered up and the details entered to determine which default options are available. A child’s age, for example, will automatically restrict and block them from certain actions, such as accepting friend requests.

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Chatting while gaming

Gaming is a great way for young people to engage, socialise and have fun. For young people, they can play games on gaming consoles, apps or websites, mobiles, tablets, PCs, or through smart speakers and virtual reality headsets.

More and more gaming apps/platforms have a chat and messaging function for players.

One of the biggest concerns for parents is the interaction in-game is often not limited to those in a friends list but complete strangers of all different ages can communicate while playing. Young people can also use other platforms, like Discord and Twitch, to learn tips about the games they play and speak to other players who share similar interests.

These chat tools often leave children at risk of inappropriate content such as cyberbullying, grooming, and talking to strangers.

Tips to help your child game safely

Family life does matter and interacting with others is appealing – it is what humans do! So it is a challenge for parents to strike a balance and there is no magic solution other than talking to your child, showing an interest in the games he or she plays, and creating a balanced dialogue together about how to game safely.

Set controls to prevent accepting friend request

One way to prevent this is to block the child’s ability to add a friend without your permission. That way, even though they might talk to someone online during a gameplay session, the interaction cannot be followed up.

Most gaming consoles or platforms have a Family plan account such as Xbox Live or Google Family Link.

Check the types of games your child has access to

Another sure-fire way to prevent this kind of interaction is to limit the type of game available to your child. Large, online multiplayer titles with voice interaction tend to be rated “mature” or over anyway. It is always advisable to check out reviews and the age rating of games online before you buy them for your children.

That’s not to say all multiplayer games should be banned full stop. Many, such as Splatoon for the Nintendo Wii U, offer fun and friendly ways to interact with others, but without the ability to talk verbally to each other. Instead, funny motions and animated gestures might be built into the game to communicate in a safe, age-appropriate way.

Very few, if any, games aimed at younger children have online capabilities.

Have regularly conversations

Social networking is naturally a concern for most parents and gaming is no different. However, if you take the time to discuss the dangers of communicating with strangers online, in the same way, you would if they met them in the street, there is a good chance your child will be safe.

Children naturally want to play with each other, and the same is true in video games, but if you carefully vet friends and restrict gaming sessions to child-friendly hours, you can reduce the risk that they might encounter offensive or inappropriate behaviour.

Make sure children are share aware

You also need to explain the danger to your child of discussing or disclosing any private information, such as real name, phone number, or address. See ‘managing personal information online’ in our Online Critical Thinking guide.

Game Safe Guide

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