New Online Craze for Kids…
Live Streaming is the latest fad, and may put kids at risk!
What’s the latest online craze for kids? Live Streaming Apps. What is live streaming you ask? Kids simply point their smartphone cameras at whatever interests them (including themselves) and that video footage is transmitted over the Internet to other viewers. Living in the moment is what these apps are all about and one of the reasons why they’re so popular with tweens and teens today. Living in the moment, often impulsively, can put kids at risk for posting content that they may later regret. There are no take backs once something is posted in the digital world.
Concerts, a theater production, people that aren’t aware they are being recorded are being live streamed for the world to see. Copyright infringement and privacy infringement can be an issue. “HBO issued take-down notices to Periscope after people streamed the season five premier of its Game of Thrones show.”
Tweens and teens are also able to view other users’ videos from across the globe, where ever a person happens to be. This could be a violent ISIS video or someone building a sandcastle on a beach. Footage can be potentially very disturbing and inappropriate or very innocent and sweet. Live streaming can run the gamut. There is no monitoring or filtering when it comes to live streaming. The interactive component of comments can also come from anyone, anywhere, which can put kids at risk for those with criminal intentions or cyberbullies.
Two of these live streaming apps that are growing in popularity are Meerkat and Periscope. Both apps work on iPhones and Android. Both are free to download and use. Both apps work essentially the same way although they have a different interface and features.
Where Live Streaming is Posted: Periscope was bought by Twitter in March of 2015 therefore requires users to have a Twitter account. Meerkat does allow users to post via Facebook as well as Twitter.
Public or Private Live Streaming: The footage using Periscope is made available to either the public or to a specific set of followers. Meerkat does not have a private streams feature.
Profile: Periscope allows users to have a profile with an avatar and a description. Meerkat users do not have a profile.
Geo-lociation: Periscope allows users to hide their location, an important feature especially when it comes to kids and online predators. Meerkat says in their terms, “if you do not want us to collect location information, you may disable that feature on your mobile device.”
Saving Live Stream videos to Watch Later: Periscope lets viewers see live streamed videos up to twenty four hours later. Meerkat’s live streams are not viewable later.
Feedback for the Broadcaster: Periscope allows those viewing the live stream to send “hearts” to the broadcaster by tapping on the mobile screen. Users are able to access a Most Loved List under the People tab. This shows users who have received the most hearts during the real-live broadcast. Meerkaters know they are loved when they receive a high score which is a combination of the total viewers, time spent streaming and engagement with followers.
Posting comments on Live Stream: Periscope gives viewers the ability to provide comments on the video, but this feature can be turned off. If someone says something inappropriate, that viewer can be blocked by tapping their comment. Meerkat does not allow users to turn off comments. Meerkat also allows broadcaster to interact with viewers.
- Engagement with strangers and potentially dangerous individuals, predators
- Easy access to sexual content, violent content, inappropriate language, drugs and drinking etc.
- Posting inappropriate content with the an easy, impulsive, unthinking click
- Over sharing without thought for their digital footprint
- Providing geo-location information to strangers
- Risk of cyberbullying from comments on shared content
- Copyright infringement
- Privacy infringement of others who have not given consent to being live streamed
What Can Parents Do:
- Know the apps that your tween or teen is downloading
- Decide for yourself whether the app is age appropriate for your child
- Download it yourself and learn how to use the app
- Learn about the risks and benefits
- Teach your tween or teen about the risks
- Discuss appropriate online behavior and digital footprint
- Teach your tween or teen to think before posting or live streaming
- Talk to your tween or teen about copyright infringement when live streaming from a concert or sporting event without permission
- Talk to you tween or teen about live streaming other people without their consent
- Talk to your child in an age appropriate way about online predator and criminal risks
- Make sure geo-location is turned off
You as a parent are your child’s first line of defense in your child’s digital world. Being aware of the online risks and issues with an app and then teaching your child about appropriate, safe online behavior can go along way in protecting your child online.