What exactly is Twitch? What do parents need to know about how it works, why their kids watch it, and whether to worry?
In a nutshell, Twitch is a place gamers go to watch other people gaming. Twitch has turned gaming into a spectator sport to be reckoned with.
On Twitch, you can find spotty teens blasting away at first-person shooters - or watch elite esports celebrities scooping million-dollar pools at pro tournaments for games like League of Legends and Dota 2.
As of May 2018, Twitch was racking up 15 million daily active viewers every day, and upwards of 2.2 million unique broadcasters monthly. Those numbers have made Twitch one of the most-trafficked websites in the world.
And that’s all the more surprising when you consider that the site was launched only seven years ago.
Before Twitch, gaming was something you did in the basement in the glow of your monitor. Now it’s something you can do in groups with hundreds and thousands of people."
venture capitalist David Cowan
Like YouTube, Twitch content is almost entirely user-generated. Unlike YouTube, which is video-based, Twitch is all about livestreaming: essentially, broadcasting events as they happen in real time.
But Twitch is more than an online TV channel for all things gaming. Although not a traditional social media platform, the site’s power to connect players and spectators is its core attraction.
A social platform with a twist
Twitch viewers typically see the gaming screen of a broadcaster, along with a video feed of the player’s face and a chat window so they can communicate with the player and fellow spectators.
Imagine watching an AFL match where you can chat with the players, sledge the opposition and chat with fans from anywhere in the world - without leaving your own couch.
Who watches Twitch?
The typical viewer is male and aged between 18 and 34 years of age, although the site has also made attempts at pursuing other demographics, including women and girls.
Why do they watch Twitch?
- To improve their gaming skills, or learn new skills
- To check out the latest games
- To purchase games
- To experience their favourite game played at an elite level
- To be entertained (some of the biggest followings are for players who are more amusing than they are skilled)
- To connect with other gamers
What do they watch on Twitch?
As of June 2018, some of the most popular games streamed on Twitch are Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Counterstrike: Global Offensive, for a combined total of over 356 million hours watched.
Why do gamers broadcast on Twitch?
- To make money - Twitch shares advertising revenue with people who broadcast over its service - some of whom have literally millions of followers and are said to earn over six figures a year.
- To connect with others with a shared interest
Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon, and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month.”
Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, which acquired Twitch for $1.1 billion in 2014
What do parents need to know?
- Violence and adult content
In theory, Twitch users are not allowed to stream any game that is rated "Adults Only" (AO) in the US or any game that contains "overtly sexual content" or "gratuitous violence.” In reality, most of the games are pretty violent - and many are horrifically so.
Twitch also features an “IRL” section - In Real Life - which is non-gaming-related and typically features stunts users are asked to pay to see (eg., an underage child getting drunk, or a teen girl working out in skimpy clothing).
Twitch has rules against profanity - but don’t kid yourself. Children will definitely hear and see swear words. Remember - Twitch is all about livestreaming. That means there’s no time delay. What users say and what they do is transmitted as it happens. Content is entirely unpredictable.
Your children will see a lot of advertising on Twitch - including ads for mature movies and games.
Twitch is a notorious time-waster. If you’re worried your child is already spending too much time playing games, you’ll want to pay especially close attention to Twitch - a veritable magic pudding of game-related distraction. Twitch’s own data show that nearly half of users spend more than 20 hours a week on it.
Twitch is rated 15+ and “Unsafe” by Family Zone
If your child uses Twitch, consider using this blog as a conversation-starter. If you still have concerns about your child’s gaming activity, Family Zone’s parental controls may be the answer.
Our simple-to-use cloud-based apps allow you manage screen-time, filter inappropriate content, set study times and bed-times, and more. Learn more - or start your free trial today - at familyzone.com.