Kids' Safety

How to protect your child if they're live-streaming video games

Written by a NortonLifeLock employee


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From casual to hard core gamers, Norton 360 for Gamers gives multiple layers of protection for your PC and devices, game accounts and digital assets.

With TV production shutting down and many film releases on hold, live-streaming video games is one of the few entertainment sectors enjoying a boom during the pandemic.

All you need is a gaming system, a camera and broadband, so this growing sector provided some fresh, new entertainment for gamers as we dealt with the fallout from Covid-19. Watching other people play Fortnite or League of Legends may not sound like much fun to you, but live-streaming video games has become a multi-million-pound industry.

Some online streamers have millions of online followers on platforms like Twitch and are among YouTube's highest earners. Viewers tune in to see their favourite streamers play games, interact with their audience or serve up some unscripted entertainment. 

Your child is almost certainly tuning into live streams, and they may already be live-streaming video games to their friends, family or an anonymous audience of online followers. If your child is interested in live-streaming video games, it's helpful to know more about this massive trend and understand its potential risks.

How much time are your children spending on streaming?

Lockdowns and post-Covid precautions mean that most of us are spending more and more time indoors. Online gaming can be a fantastic way for children to hang out with friends or play multiplayer games.

If your child is live-streaming video games, they probably want to showcase their skills or enjoy social interaction with other gamers. They may even dream of going 'pro' like their heroes. Growing their audience can be a thrill, and they might be tempted to gain more followers by playing for longer and longer periods, especially if they're being egged on by an audience.

It's important to establish healthy habits around live-streaming. Agree on reasonable time limits and chat to them about knowing when to quit, especially when some games can be played indefinitely.

Bullying or abuse with live-streaming video games

The internet can be a great place to connect with new people who like similar things, but it can also have a dark side, particularly when anonymous accounts are involved. Many live-streaming sites have online chat features, and interactions can quickly become argumentative.

Your child may be exposed to people who'll make racist, abusive or sexually-inappropriate comments. 'Raiding' can see many people tuning in to a live stream after some prompting from a forum or a popular streamer. Sometimes, raiding can be a supportive gesture, but it can also be used to gang up on unsuspecting streamers or get a reaction, which can upset young people.

Ensure that they understand to focus on the positives, ignore abusive or offensive comments, and know they can turn off the stream if something makes them uncomfortable. They should always feel like they can come and talk to you about any negative experiences.

Social scams with live-streaming video games

Chatting with new people is part of the fun of live-streaming video games, but it's easy for online scammers to extract sensitive information during casual interactions.

Younger players can be targeted by malicious followers who can manipulate your child's trust to break down their defences. They might befriend your child over time and get them to reveal personal information like their real name, birthday, or address.

That might seem harmless, but cybercriminals can use this type of information to steal their identity or even open up credit lines in your child's name. It can also be used to gain access to accounts containing financial information like credit card details.

Social engineering scams have even been used to dox streamers, where malicious people publish their personal information on the internet.

Many online RPGs give players a chance to pay to upgrade their character by buying weapons or armour or special powers, creating markets for these valuable items. Young people can easily be tempted by promises of a great deal and share their (or your!) credit card details to purchase these coveted in-game items.

Other scams promise them cheaper in-game currency rates or in-game currency in exchange for clicking on links. These types of social engineering tactics can be used to get your child to click on a link or attachment that's infected with viruses or malware.

Viruses or malware with live-streaming video games

If a scam works on emails or websites, cybercriminals tend to replicate it across various platforms. So simple tricks to get people to click on infected links or attachments are popular scams on live-streaming sites.

A follower might share a 'useful' link or promise that an attachment can provide them with a powerful upgrade. Scammers can use this tactic to get your child to click on a link or attachment that's infected with viruses or malware, which will leave their computer or device compromised.

Certain types of malware on live-streaming sites specifically target your child's Xbox or PlayStation accounts, which can contain sensitive details or financial information.

Some malware can give hackers control of their device and access your child's webcam or even track their keyboard strokes. Hackers can use this to obtain personal or financial information or blackmail victims by recording videos of them without their knowledge.

Phishing scams with live-streaming video games

Phishing is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick people into providing them with information like personal information. A common phishing scam that targets streamers is to send an email telling a player that there is an issue with their Twitch or Discord account and asking them to log in.

Of course, the email and the login portal are fake, but now the hacker has your child's login details.

What can you do to protect your child with live-streaming video games?

Gamers enjoy streaming because it gives them a chance to be creators, get positive feedback, and share their passion with an audience. It can also be a great way for them to gain confidence and develop their communications skills.

Your child must know that it's not their fault if they encounter abusive or offensive behaviour, and they're not to blame. They need to feel comfortable chatting with you about it and seeking help if they do have a negative experience.

Live streaming is 'in the moment' so your child can act on impulse or respond to a situation without thinking about it. It's easy to get caught up in the moment when you're distracted by playing a game and interacting with strangers. Live streams can be recorded, so make sure they understand that anything they put out there could have a very long lifespan.

Explain that some of the people they meet may even be criminals. They should never reveal intimate details like their real name, personal information about their family or any sensitive information, even if they think the person is a friend.

Talk to them about the importance of choosing a username that can't be traced back to them in real life and never showing anything on camera that could reveal their location or identity.

Some sites have codes of conduct in place and ways to report inappropriate behaviour. Both Twitch and YouTube allow you to make streams private so people can only watch by invite. You can also moderate the types of messages that viewers can leave or block offensive users. Ask your child about these options and see if they understand the measures they can take to protect themselves.

Good password hygiene is another simple way to protect their live-streaming account. Get them to use a strong password and make sure that they never share their login details with anyone else.

Teaching them basic internet safety is always a good plan. So never click on unverified links or attachments. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is! It's good to encourage a healthy scepticism in your child, especially around strangers who promise them freebies.

One of the simplest ways to protect them is to establish some reasonable boundaries when they're streaming. Make sure they ask for your permission before making any in-game purchases, which decreases their chances of falling for a scam.

Talk to them about what is and isn't appropriate behaviour when they're live-streaming games and agree on the rules with them in advance. Depending on their age, you may want to limit them to live-streaming video games when there's an adult in the room.

Live-streaming can be a creative and enjoyable experience for young people and a chance to express themselves and connect with others. So it can be a very positive outlet if they approach it in the right way and take precautions.

One simple way to help keep them protected online is to ensure that you have Norton 360 for Gamers on your devices. It is designed to protect your child from accidentally downloading malicious software and gives multiple layers of protection for your devices, gaming accounts and your digital assets. That additional protection can make them stay safer online and give you peace of mind.

Get Norton 360 for Gamers

From casual to hard core gamers, Norton 360 for Gamers gives multiple layers of protection for your PC and devices, game accounts and digital assets.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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