Livestreaming is when a video is broadcast and received in real-time over the internet. It’s said to be the closest online interaction to socialising offline, and the real-time interaction can feel personal and intimate, which may explain its popularity.

When users ‘go live’, their viewers can interact with their livestreams, by sending gifts, comments or reactions. Viewers may also receive notifications to encourage them to watch livestreams from people they follow.

Popular Platforms with Livestreaming Functions Include:

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5 Ways for Safer Livestreams:

1. Understand How Livestreaming Can Influence Behaviour

Livestreaming can be a fun activity for children and young people to broadcast to their friends online. But the fun and instant nature of livestreaming can influence their behaviour, because of the so-called ‘online disinhibition effect’.

This is when someone feels less restraint when using the internet than they would in a face to face interaction. During livestreams, young people may let their guard down and feel comfortable saying or doing things ‘in the moment’ that they would not do offline. This excitement can be overwhelming if there are a lot of likes or reactions being sent.

Helping young people understand how the internet can influence their behaviour is important to support them to be safer online.

Top Tip: Encourage the children and young people in your care to only broadcast to people they know offline. It’s important for them to be aware that others could record their livestream without their knowledge.

2. Protect Personal Information

Most livestreaming takes place at home, and there may be seemingly mundane items or photographs in the background. When children and young people livestream, they may inadvertently give away personal information such as their school badge, location, or personal items that are publicly visible. Young people should be aware of what is in the background of livestreams, and protect their personal information if their audience asks personal questions.

Top Tip: Help young people recognise and respond to the expectation to be entertaining during livestreams. Ask them to livestream in a shared room at home, rather than their bedroom.

3. Block and Report

There may be instances of inappropriate behaviour from adults and other young people during livestreams. If someone says or does something that makes a young person uncomfortable, they should know how to block the user from the livestream and report their behaviour. This will help them and other young people stay safer online.

Top Tip: Use Our Online Safety Centre to discuss how to block and report on livestreaming platforms. Users can also set restrictions on who can see their livestream.

4. Talk about Abusive Behaviour

You should encourage children and young people in your care to talk to you about anything that upsets or distresses them online. Gifting functions on some livestreaming platforms can be misused to coerce or convince a young person to do or say a particular thing. Support the children and young people in your care by helping them understand what is OK and what is not OK.

Top Tip: Children and young people should be particularly cautious of requests to chat privately, where conversations cannot be seen or moderated. Ask them to identify their trusted adults they would talk to if they had a problem.

5. Set Limits on Screen Time

The age-old advice of ‘everything in moderation’ stands up to how we should think about screen time. Although livestreaming can help children and young people develop their confidence, creativity and communication skills, moderation is key. Creating healthy screen time habits and encouraging offline time can help support the health and wellbeing of young people.

Top Tip: Support the children and young people in your care to agree a time limit for a livestream. This will help support them to maintain healthy screen time habits, and it will also reduce the chance of ‘off-script’ moments.

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