Good Digital Parenting
Blog | June 20, 2016

What Parents Need to Understand About Live Streaming Apps

Administrative Assistant, KidsEmail.org

This post was first published on KidsEmail.org

Live streaming apps are gaining more and more popularity: They’re a way for people to broadcast their own life or experience in real time. While this can be a great tool, it can also have some serious consequences for children. It’s important for parents to understand what dangers can arise while using live streaming apps and make sure they educate their children as well.

Some dangers we found while testing live apps were:

  • Children can be followed and viewed by adults.

  • Kids were freely giving out their social media details, such as Snapchat or Facebook accounts, for random followers to connect with them.

  • Bullying: People can comment while people are broadcasting. Some people are MEAN – we found many comments to be brutal.

  • Kids commonly live broadcast alone in their bedrooms. This is a huge issue with privacy, and we felt awkward watching such young children broadcasting what they were doing in their bedrooms.

  • Some of the apps have in app purchases, people can buy virtual things and send to other people. So if your device is connected to a bank account, any child could easily purchase a variety of things.

  • It is a way for children to allow adults and strangers in your home without you even knowing.

Parents may think they have everything under control, however we found otherwise while testing – a child (maybe 12 or 13) alone in her bedroom talking to strangers, her Mom walked in the room and asked her “Who are you talking too?” and the child denies having any conversation while hiding her phone until the Mom left the room. It’s important to be involved and aware of what apps our children are actually using. We suggest downloading the apps and test them for yourselves before deciding if you are comfortable with your children using them.

If you and your child decide to enable a live streaming app, there are a few things to first consider.

  • Be sure to set strict rules and adhere to those rules. Agree on the consequences and be open to communication.

  • Enable safety settings and disable locations services.

  • Open a live streaming account yourself in order to keep an eye on your child.

  • Explain that they should not agree to meet people through the app.

  • When broadcasting, make sure to leave out any landmarks or identifiable locations.

Some Popular Live-Streaming apps include:

Modern technology gives us the ability to connect with others around the globe and feel part of a community.  Using simple steps to play it safe will make our experience and our kids’ experience even better.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com.