Live streaming & vlogging parents’ guide

With more children aspiring to become YouTubers and the growth of live streaming on social networks, it’s now essential to get to grips with the phenomenon of children broadcasting themselves online.
See our guide to learn more about live streaming and vlogging, how children are using it to interact with others and what you can do to keep them safe while doing it.

Inside the guide

What types of videos are young people creating online?

Live streaming videos

What is Live Streaming?

Live streaming or ‘Going live’ is the broadcasting of live video on the internet from a specific location in real-time, like live TV. It differs from video chat services like Skype, as videos can be watched by many more people.  All you need to live stream is access to the internet and a camera.

Vlogging videos

What is vlogging?

Vlogging involves publishing pre-recorded videos on social networks like YouTube on a regular basis. Both brands and individuals or ‘Vloggers’ do this.

Let's Play videos

What is a Let’s Play video?

Let’s Play videos are videos showing a screen recording of someone playing a game while providing a voice-over commentary. These have become very popular with YouTubers and gaming brands have started to tailor content specifically for this type of YouTube gaming video.

Where can you live stream or vlog?

Since 2011, the number of apps available to live stream or vlog has increased starting from YouNow to Snapchat and Facebook Live. According to our research YouTube and YouTube Live are the most popular platforms used to watch and create vlogs and live streams.

live-streaming-timeline

Here is a list of the most popular live streaming and vlogging apps that children are using. We’ve provided a summary of the safety features they offer and links to guides to find out more about how to manage privacy settings on the platforms.

YouTube

Safety features 

  • Manage who sees the video – Public, Unlisted, Private
  • Switch comments function on or off
  • Reporting function
  • Visit privacy guide

YouTube Live

Safety features 

  • Manage who can see the live feed – Public, Unlisted, Private
  • Remove or flag comments
  • Put users in timeout or block them
  • Assign a moderator for all comments
  • All content must follow community guidelines or feed can be blocked
  • Visit privacy guide

Facebook

Safety features 

  • Manage location sharing
  • Manage Who can see the live feed – ‘Public’, ‘Friends’, bespoke list of friends or ‘Only me’
  • Live broadcast can last up to 4 hours
  • Visit privacy guide

Twitter

Safety features 

Live.ly

Safety features 

YouNow

Safety features 

  • Users have to follow community guidelines or face suspension or permanent ban
  • Broadcasts can be deleted but are stored by default
  • Reporting function available

Twitch

Safety features 

  • Users have to follow community guidelines or face suspension or permanent ban
  • Visit privacy guide

Instagram

Safety features 

  • Manage who sees the video – Public, Unlisted, Private
  • Switch comments function on or off
  • Reporting function
  • Visit privacy guide

Instagram Live

Safety features 

  • Manage comments by turning them on or off
  • Keyword filters screen out unwanted comments
  • Live video is not stored unless shared on Instagram Stories
  • Visit privacy guide

Snapchat

Safety features 

Periscope

Safety features 

  • Manage who can see the live feed
  • Reporting function available
  • Block users or stop them leaving comments

Musical.ly

Safety features 

Vimeo

Safety features 

  • Manage who sees the video – Public, Unlisted, Private
  • Switch comments function on or off
  • Reporting function

How popular is live streaming and vlogging among young people? 

According to our research, there is a larger number of young people watching vlogs and live streams than ‘going live’ or creating their own content. We’ve found while 22% of 4 – 16-year-olds are live streaming, 41% of them are watching the content rather than creating it.

Why do children live stream or vlog?

  • To connect with family and followers – It is a quick and easy way to share updates and special moments about their lives online with their friends
  • To get immediate feedback – With the comment functionality children are able to get immediate feedback on what they are sharing and communicate with a range of people
  • To be more creative – It allows them to be more creative and express themselves to a larger audience.
  • The thrill of it being ‘in the moment’ so anything can happen

Why do children watch live streams and vlogs?

  • To stay up to date on the latest trend
  • Get tips and advice from their favourite vloggers
  • To watch exclusive content in real time from on the channels they follow

What types of vlogs do children watch?

Gaming, unboxing and vlogs from professional vloggers are the most popular types of vlogs watched among children

What types of live streams do children watch?

Gaming, sport and TV series and film are the most popular types of live stream watched among children

What do parents think about live streaming and vlogging?

  • Seven out of 10 parents say it’s difficult to know whether certain vlogs or vloggers are suitable for their kids.
  • Many parents are concerned about the suitability of the content for children and the responses from other people are the main concerns
  • Most parents of those who don’t already create live streams would not permit their child to do so
  • Very few parents would permit their children who don’t already vlog to start doing 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.

What are the risks and benefits of creating and watching videos online

Risks when creating videos

Safety net of screen

As everything happens behind, a screen children may feel more able to do things they may not do face to face.

It's in the moment

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

Impact on self-esteem

The immediate feedback given by viewers, whether negative or positive, can have a direct effect on their confidence and self-esteem.

'Live grooming' concern

Latest research from the IWF that groomers are using these tools as a way to coerce children into live streaming their own sexual abuse over webcams, tablets and mobile phones.

Concerns when watching

Seeing inappropriate content

As streams are live there is no way of knowing that will be shown so there is the possibility that they may see explicit content.

Influence on ideas and behaviour

As children consume the content, they may sick to mimic or take on the ideas of that are being shared.

Benefits for children

Building confidence

Getting a sense of achievement as audience and engagement of content grows.

Connecting with like-minded people

Being able to be less socially isolated by building bonds with people with similar interests.

Financial reward

Sites like YouTube and apps like Live.me and TikTok enable users to buy virtual coins on the app to gift to other users as they wish. So, children may be incentivised to do things to get watchers or fans to gift coins to earn money.

On certain sites, once you have reached a certain number of subscribers you can monetise your channels by allowing ads to be shown which generates income.

How to keep kids safe while creating and watch videos online

1. Stay engaged with what they do online

  • Have regular conversations about the potential risks i.e. sharing something they may regret
  • Encourage them to be critical about what they watch and how they share online and with who.
  • Give them the confidence to say no if asked to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Talk about how to deal with peer pressure and how easy it is to do something they think will impress others

2. Use tools to help them manage what they see and share

  • Together review privacy settings across all the social networks they use so they stay in control of who can see their videos
  • Use parental controls to ensure they see age-appropriate content

3. Make them aware of reporting functions available to flag people or content

  • Ensure they know where and how to seek support if something goes wrong

4. Encourage them to ‘Go live’ or record in public places to limit the personal information they share

  • Younger children should be supervised to ensure that you can intervene if needed
  • It’s important to be aware of who is potentially watching to limit the risks of sharing with wrong people

5. If they are watching live streaming or vlogs…

  • For younger children, it’s best to watch together to see if it is suitable
  • For older kids encourage them to evaluate what they watch to make sure it is having a positive impact on their lives

Live Streaming & Vlogging Basic Tips

If you decide to allow your child to vlog or live stream, here are some basic tips on how to do it safely.

More to explore

Here are some other useful parent stories and children experiences of cyberbullying to give you more insights on the issue:

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