What is live streaming & vlogging?

A guide to help parents and carers keep kids safe

More children now aspire to become live streamers on Twitch or vloggers on YouTube and other social media platforms.

Learn about live streaming and vlogging to help keep children and young people safe online.

A young child with a camera on a tripod, live streaming or vlogging themselves with sweets.

Inside the guide

What do young people live stream and vlog?

Our research shows an increase in the number of young people watching vlogs and live streams (41%) than creating their own content (22%).

However, for those who do create their own content, there are a range of topics they might choose to cover.

What does live streaming mean?

Live streaming or ‘going live’ is the broadcasting of video online in real-time (like live TV).

It differs from video chat services like Skype, which are closed calls. Many people can watch live streams at once across different streaming and social media platforms.

All a child needs to live stream is access to the internet and a camera such as on their smartphone.

However, some platforms require their users to meet certain age requirements. Most will require users to be 13 or older. Some will have additional requirements outlined in their Terms of Service.

What does vlogging mean?

Vlogging is the combination of ‘video’ and ‘log’, which comes from ‘blog’ (short for web log). While a blog is written content, vlogs exclusively feature videos. Unlike live streams, vlogs are pre-recorded and shared on video-sharing platforms (VSPs) like TikTok and YouTube.

VSPs also have age requirements, with most setting 13 as the minimum age for users. Some platforms have versions for children under 13, which allow them to use the service but not upload content. One example of this is YouTube Kids.

What do children like about watching live streams and vlogs?

Research from Ofcom found that while 58% of children aged 3-17 viewed live streamed videos, 95% of children used video-sharing platforms to watch any type of video.

  • Kids prefer short-form content like those on TikTok. This makes it easy to watch a variety of content in a short space of time without them losing interest.
  • However, YouTube is still the most popular video-sharing platform, which features videos that range in length.
  • Ofcom’s Children’s Media Lives survey found children drawn to videos filled with drama such as those with gossip, conflict and controversy. These videos keep their attention but don’t require much effort or focus.
  • Live streams and vlogs also help children stay up to date on the latest trend.
  • They might get tips and advice from their favourite vloggers, especially when it comes to tutorial videos and similar.
  • Additionally, some live streams might feature exclusive content from the creators they follow.

Why do children create and share videos?

While most children prefer to view content, those who like to live stream or vlog might do so for various reasons. Some of these reasons could include:

  • To connect with family and friends: It is a quick and easy way to share updates and special moments about their lives online
  • To get immediate feedback: With the comment functionality on live streams and vlogs children can get immediate feedback on what they share. Additionally, they can communicate with a range of people
  • To express their creativity: Live streams and vlogs allow them to express themselves to larger audiences and communities. Additionally, because it’s their own content, they can decide what content to create.

Types of videos popular among children


How do online challenges work?

Online challenges are tasks that spread across social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Reasons for online challenges can vary among users. Some include:

  • raising awareness or money for charity: an example of this is the ice bucket challenge popular in 2014 that aimed to support the ALS Association in America.
  • to encourage positive actions: some examples include talking about mental health or sharing selfies without makeup or filters.
  • for humour or fun: for instance, the Mannequin Challenge in 2016 saw people freezing in place during a video, which some saw as funny, especially for those not ‘in’ on the joke.
  • for outrage: dangerous or troubling challenges often spread quickly online and gain many views. Examples include 2012’s Cinnamon Challenge or 2018’s Tide Pod challenge. These types of challenges are often harmful.

It’s important to talk to children about risks of copying what they see online. If they want to try things they see online, consider trying some online. Additionally, if you come across something that could cause harm, make sure to research with your child.

Learn more about online challenges with research from TikTok.


What are playthroughs?

Playthroughs or Let’s Play videos feature a streamer or vlogger playing through a video game while recording their screen. This is popular on platforms like Twitch.

These videos can offer viewers a casual place to chat with others who share their interests. Alternatively or additionally, users might watch playthroughs to help them pass a difficult part within the video game they’re playing.


What are unboxing videos?

Unboxing videos feature live streamers or vloggers opening an item. These could include products from popular brands, video game loot boxes or any number of other products.

Many influencers feature items bought from social media or less trusted online stores. Unfortunately, some of these products result in scams. As such, it’s essential to talk to children about the potential risks if they express interest in spending their money on items for these types of videos.

Product reviews

What do review videos look like?

Review videos might accompany unboxing videos, depending on the products. If a child gets the latest toy or video game, they might want to share their thoughts about it in a video.

Other review videos could feature popular makeup products, art supplies or even platforms an influencer uses or is sponsored to share.

It’s important to help children think critically about the review videos they watch. Remember that many streamers and vloggers get paid to share positive reviews of products.


What are tutorials?

Tutorial videos could feature any number of skills. If your child is interested in makeup, baking or cooking, video games or creating art, they might want to create tutorials. Or, they might like to watch tutorials to help them learn new skills.


What kind of stories are popular?

Stories are popular across social media platforms and come in different forms. These include:

  • story voiceovers: the video visual might include a tutorial while the audio tells a story. Sometimes, these stories are inappropriate.
  • stories using video games: these videos feature a story created by the streamer or vlogger. The visuals, however, will come from a video game. Popular games to do this with include The Sims, Roblox and Minecraft. In some cases, while the visuals are from child-friendly platforms, the content is aimed at adults as in the case of some Gacha Life videos.
  • daily life: these stories will feature a live streamer or vlogger telling a story about something that happened to them. These stories range from funny to serious, and may stretch the truth in some cases.

If your child is a storyteller or enjoys listening to stories, make sure they understand what is and isn’t appropriate.

Additionally, when they hear a story from their favourite influencer, they should think critically about whether what they say is truth or fiction.

Where do kids live stream or vlog?

Since 2011, the number of apps available to live stream or vlog has increased. From Instagram to TikTok, popular social media platforms now have the ability to livestream and vlog.

The following are the most popular live streaming and vlogging apps that children and teens use.

YouTube live streams and vlogs

YouTube remains the most popular video-sharing platform among children of all ages. When surveyed, nearly 7 out of 10 children aged 4-16 used the platform. Further research from Ofcom supported this with 88% of 3-17-year-olds using YouTube or YouTube Kids.

However, when it comes to creating content, few children post their own. Additionally, boys are more likely than girls to do this.

For live streams, YouTube Live is also the most popular platforms among children. Again, boys are more likely than girls to use YouTube Live.

Live streaming on YouTube

What is YouTube LIVE?

YouTube Live is an option for creators on YouTube who meet certain requirements. First, YouTube requires an age mimimum of 13 for its users unless an adult accompanies them.

Live streams ‘made for kids’ restrict chat, comments, ads and more.

Additionally, live stream is restricted to desktop. To use mobile live streaming, users must have at least 50 subscribers (or 1000 if under 17).

Entertainment on TikTok

TikTok is the most popular app among children to watch content. Research from Ofcom found that 53% of children aged 5-17 use TikTok. However, that number rises to 80% among 16-17-year-olds.

However, children rarely use TikTok to post their own content. In fact, only 20% of children aged 3-17 said they did this.

Live streaming on TikTok

What is TikTok LIVE?

TikTok LIVE is the live streaming option available on the social media platform. To go live, TikTok requires an age minimum of 18. This is also true for sending Gifts during a live stream. However, any user over 13 can watch live streams.

Content on Instagram

Instagram is used by 41% of children aged 3-17. This number increases with age; 46% of 12-15s and 87% of 16-17s use Instagram.

Like other platforms, a low percentage of children actually post their own content on Instagram. However, girls are more likely to do this than boys.

When it comes to Instagram Live, girls are more likely to view live streams as well.

Live streaming on Instagram

What is Instagram Live?

Instagram Live is a feature available on smartphone devices. It allows users to broadcast in real time to all of their followers.

While anyone using Instagram (13+) can use Instagram Live, it’s recommended that under-18s keep their profile and stream private so they know who is viewing it. Additionally, when going live, users can turn off comments. Or, they can set up keyword filters ahead of time to filter out offensive comments.

Streaming with Twitch

Twitch is a live streaming service most popular among video game streamers. Unlike the platforms above, Twitch is solely designed for this purpose.

Less popular than social media platforms, nearly 1 in 5 boys aged 12-17 watch content on Twitch. This is twice as much as girls in the same age group.

What do parents think?

  • Seven out of 10 parents say it’s difficult to know whether certain vlogs or vloggers are suitable for their kids.
  • Many parents worry about the suitability of the content for children and the responses from other people.
  • Most parents of those who don’t already create live streams or vlogs would not permit their child to do so.
  • On a positive note, 44% of parents believe their children have learnt good things from vloggers – 33% think they’re a good role model. But 65% feel the lifestyles portrayed in vlogs give young people unrealistic expectations about life.

Mum, Lucie, shares her experience with managing live streaming and vlogging with her children.


What are the potential risks and benefits?

Live streaming and vlogging offer children a variety of benefits alongside risks of potential harm. Explore what these might look like to help you make informed decisions about your child’s digital experience and online safety.

Benefits of live streaming and vlogging

Develops confidence

As children create their own videos and, potentially, earn followers, they could become more confident. However, it’s important for them to understand their self-worth has nothing to do with the likes or followers they gain.

Instead, they can learn important speaking skills, how to create engaging videos, how to write scripts and more. Learning skills rather than chasing likes will support their wellbeing throughout their digital journey.

Discover other apps to help them learn about video production.

Finding community and belonging

Whether your child creates their own videos or watches others’, they likely enjoy the community around these videos. From baking tutorials to video game streaming, there is likely some sort of fanbase who share their interests.

This community supports children’s social skills and sense of belonging. Children with learning difficulties or who experience isolation offline might find considerably more positives as a result.

Risks associated with live streaming and vlogging

Real and unedited feedback

The real-time nature of the live streaming means there is no way to edit what is shared. As such, a a child might share something intimate or private if asked, that they otherwise wouldn’t share as a photo or video.

Furthermore, the feedback they receive through comments during live streams or on vlogs could negatively impact their wellbeing. Cyberbullying, hate or comments on their appearance could lead to negative self-image.

Additionally, while many platforms have robust moderation when it comes to live streams, children watching live streams might see inappropriate content. If this does happen, make sure your child knows to report it and speak to you.

Learn more about protecting your child from inappropriate content.

'Live grooming' concern

Research from the IWF found that groomers use live streaming tools and platforms to coerce children into showing their own sexual abuse over webcams, tablets and mobile phones.

Learn more about online grooming to help your child stay safe.

Influence on ideas and behaviour

Just like most social media, the content children see can influence their thoughts and opinions. This might look like participating in TikTok challenges, or it could look like subscribing the online hate and misogyny.

Additionally, users often say or do things online they wouldn’t do in real life. This might include acting a certain way or saying offensive things. Children might feel they can do more online, which could lead them to oversharing or creating inappropriate content while live streaming or vlogging.

Parental controls light-bulb

Mobile smartphone outline with a gear icon and green tick to signify parental controls and privacy settings.

Help your child benefit more from being online with step-by-step parental controls guides.


Tips to help children create safely

Stay engaged with what they do online

  • Have regular conversations about their favourite streamers, what they like to share and how to stay safe
  • Encourage them to think about what they watch and what they share — why do they watch/share that content?
  • Empower them to say no if someone asks for something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure they know they can always come to you if they worry about someone online
  • Talk about how to deal with peer pressure and only share what’s right for them, not what everyone else shares.

Use online tools to help manage what they see and share

  • Together, review privacy settings across live streaming and vlogging platforms so they can stay in control of who sees their content and what kind of content they see
  • Set up parental controls to make sure they see age appropriate content.

Show them how to report, block and more

  • With them, review the available functions on their favourite live streaming or vlogging platforms. Features like block, report, mute and restrict can help them take control of their online experience
  • Encourage them to tell you when you take these actions or need support
  • Provide them with other resources like helplines and message boards such as those on Childline if they need to talk about their experiences in healthy places.

Set boundaries around live streaming or vlogging

  • Discuss what they can and cannot share in videos they record
  • Decide where they can and cannot record. If possible, limit them to a common area like the living room instead of somewhere private like their bedroom
  • Set expectations for supervision — younger children will likely need more supervision than teens so you can intervene where necessary

See our family agreement template to help.

Encourage critical thinking

  • Watch videos your child likes with them and ask questions about them. What does your child like about the videos or the influencer? How does the content make them feel? What about others?
  • Ask children to think about the reason behind the content they see. For example, if an influencer shares an item, is it because they receive payment or because they use it? Remind them that most influencers make videos to earn money.
  • Talk about algorithms, how they lead to echo chambers and what they can do to avoid falling into them
  • Remind children to think about what they share and how safe it is to do so. Do they have the right account settings to stay safe?

See our guide to critical thinking online.

More live streaming and vlogging resources

Find more resources below to help support your child’s safety while they live stream, vlog or view others’ content.

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