Livestreaming and online video apps

Learn about livestreaming and video apps and how to keep your child safe.

Children and teenagers are likely to be spending more time on livestreaming and video apps because of coronavirus. While many children will be using livestreaming or video apps to talk to friends or family they can’t see in person, some children may be talking to people they don’t know or sharing personal information without realising. We’ve got advice to help you understand the risks and keep them safe.

What are livestreaming and video apps?

Livestreaming is broadcasting to an audience in ‘real’ time. The audience can leave comments, or give likes and kudos to the person streaming. Some platforms let several people livestream at the same time.

There are livestreaming apps like Twitch and Yubo, but young people can livestream on other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. Many young people also post pre-recorded videos on video apps like YouTube and Vimeo, or video chat in groups or one-to-one, using apps like WhatsApp. Video conferencing apps such as Zoom and IMO are also becoming increasingly popular during lockdown.

Young people like to livestream and use video apps for lots of reasons. These include:

    • to learn or show others how to do something – livestreams of people playing video games are particularly popular
    • to stay in contact with family and friends
    • to take part in viral trends
    • to be creative
    • to relax – many video apps have ‘satisfying content’, such food being prepared.

Children can feel both positive and negative feelings when using video and livestreaming apps.

Some of the positive feelings children may feel include:

    • excitement
    • happiness
    • reassured
    • confident.

Some of the negative feelings children may feel if things go wrong or they see something that upsets them can include:

    • confusion
    • shame
    • guilt
    • shock
    • sadness.

It’s important to let your child know that they can always come to you about anything that they see online so that you can support them, or they can call Childline on 0808 1111.

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about something a child or young person may have experienced online, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for free support and advice. Call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support

What are the risks of livestreaming and video apps?

Because livestreaming and video chat happen in real time, young people may feel under pressure to behave in a certain way so that people will keep watching their channel. It can help to talk to your child about what is and what isn't appropriate behaviour online.

On some livestreaming apps and websites children can talk to people they don't know online. It helps to explore different websites that children like to use and check how risky they are to help decide what's appropriate for your child. You can use Net Aware, in partnership with O2, your guide to the latest apps, games and social media sites to help you.

Video conversations can be recorded and shared across other social networks, without knowledge or consent. Your child may lose control over their video and where it's been shared. You can help by:

Your child may feel upset or embarrassed if they’ve received nasty comments from other users on video or livestreaming apps. You can help by:

    • making sure that you and your child, knows how to block and report users on apps, games and social media sites by searching for the website on Net Aware.
    • getting advice about online bullying or letting your child know they can get help and support from Childline.

It’s important children know they can talk to their parents or another trusted adult if they see something online that makes them feel upset or worried. You can help by:

      Some livestreaming and video apps let young people share their location. They can do this through the settings, or while livestreaming or videoing. You can help by:
  • reminding your child not to share any personal information online, like where they live or go to school. Remember to explain that where they’re livestreaming could give this information away.
  • making sure their location settings are switched off, so that they’re not able to share their location with anyone.
  • talk to your child about the things that they can safely share, like their interests and hobbies.

Tips to keep your child safe

1. Talk to your child
Talk to them about what they're doing online and how they can stay safe. Let them know they can come to you, or another adult they trust if they're feeling worried or upset by anything they've seen online. They can also get support from Childline.

2. Explore apps and sites together
Explore what your child likes to do online together. This can help you to understand why they're using certain livestreaming or video apps. You can use Net Aware, in partnership with O2, to help you.

3. Agree what's appropriate together
Agree your own rules as a family when using apps, sites or games. You can use our O2 and NSPCC family agreement template to help get you started.

3. Check your settings
Check the technology your family uses and use privacy and location settings to keep your child safe. You can call your mobile and broadband provider to find out how to do this. Visit our parental controls page to find out more.

If videos of your child have been shared

If you’re worried that any online videos have been shared of your child, you can:

    • reassure them and offer support – remind them they can always talk to you, another trusted adult, or Childline.
    • don’t blame your child. Try avoiding questions like "Why have you done this?" which might stop your child opening up to you.
    • Worried about how to support a young person who has had a sexual image or video of themselves shared online? If they’re under 18, they can use Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation's discreet Report Remove tool to see if it can be taken down. Young people can get support from Childline throughout the process.
    • avoid ‘sharenting’ or sharing videos of your child or another child, even if it’s to raise awareness or seek advice. You may be sharing images of child sexual or physical abuse, which is against the law. Sharing abusive content of any kind continues the abuse and can be upsetting for the child and their families.