Live streaming is fast becoming one of the most popular ways people connect, view content and share to their social media platforms. At the press of a button we can broadcast live to the online world at any place and anytime.
How does Live Streaming work?
Live streaming refers to the real time broadcasting from a phone, tablet, mobile device or gaming console.
Some of the platforms that allow for live streaming are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Live.ly, Twitch, TikTok, Steam, Live.me and a gazillion others.
Within the platforms that live stream, there is the ability to chat, comment, like and share the broadcast, offering immediate recognition and feedback.
Pros and Cons of Live Streaming
Live streaming can offer many benefits and certainly add some real time excitement to our online experiences. We can see a concert broadcast live, we can interact with bloggers, authors, business owners and watch celebrities and sporting stars as they show us a sneak peak into their private lives. We can also watch our favourite gamers battle it out with other players and hear their live commentary of the experience. It’s spontaneous and feels like the most authentic way of connecting with other people. It also provides that immediate feedback and the thrill of being in the moment.
It can be a problem however when young people don’t have the cognitive ability to think about possible consequences, when they take much greater risks than they usually would and in some instances break the law for those extra views.
But it also allows for heinous crimes and atrocities to be broadcast live into the bedrooms and schoolyards of our young kids. It allows for paedophiles to live stream their sexual abuse of minors and many have had to witness the live streaming of suicide and self harming.
Live Streaming can be unpredictable and hard to moderate
Because of the immediate nature of live streaming it obviously becomes unpredictable and hard to moderate and manage videos that go viral for all the wrong reasons.
There has been talk this week of banning live streaming. There has been calls for social networks to respond quicker when extremist or violent videos surface. We have some technology to remove these videos, but it is extremely difficult to erase them full stop. The technology can detect videos that are the same but the minute that video is altered slightly the search has to be reset again. So adding some text, changing graphics slightly or even the colour of the video can mean a whole new search. And let’s not forget that videos can be saved to a camera roll and reappear at another place or time.
So is Live Streaming safe for young people?
Well of course it can be, but it certainly has the ability to be unsafe, inappropriate and scary. Like many things online it comes down to how you use it. That means what you choose to record, who you choose to share it with, and of course, what and who you choose to follow and watch. And when young people crave attention and views and even fame, that can be a risky combination when teamed with the often underdeveloped brain of a younger child.
But there are certainly many older kids and teens that are live streaming, many even making a decent living out of it.
What must we be aware of when watching Live Streaming videos?
- We must remember it is hard to ‘unsee’ things, so we want to be thinking about what content we may be viewing on a live stream before we click onto it.
- We need to be critical about what and who we watch and share and remember that sharing videos can become a reflection of your values and what you believe.
What rules should I have if my child wants to create Live Stream videos?
- Obviously younger children don’t need to be going live to the public unless it is under the strict guidance and scrutiny of a parent who should always be present when any recording is done.
- Be mindful of who else is in the video and whether you need to get their permission
- Take note of your surroundings. Do you want people to know where you are? Are you giving away too much personal information?
- Are you dressed appropriately? Remember these videos can hang around a while so we want to prevent any embarrassing situations.
- Review privacy settings to see who could possibly be viewing the broadcasts. Think of all those possible viewers every time you go live.
- Be sure they know how to block people, report and manage unwanted attention.
- Encourage doing it for the right reasons. Following a passion, being creative with videos and sharing good positive messages can be something we can nurture in young people.
Like all things in a digital world, Live Streaming is unlikely to go anywhere fast. So lets make sure we are continuing to teach our kids how to do it safely and positively and how to remain in control of all that they view online.