24 March 2020

Lights, camera, action! Video chat, video sharing and livestreaming

Boy using phone outside

Does your child TikTok more than your clock? Have they got an itch for Twitch? Do they Snap, Gram and Dub? Here's what you need to know about video chat, video sharing and livestreaming.

What’s the difference between video chat, video sharing and livestreaming?

Video chat

Video chats are live face-to-face conversations that happen through a mobile camera or webcam, either with one person or a group, using apps like Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger and Houseparty.

Video sharing

Video sharing is when users create and upload short videos to an app or site for other people to watch (and often share). You might have heard about young people doing this on apps like TikTok and Instagram.


Livestreaming is when users film and broadcast videos in real time. It’s popular among gamers on platforms like Mixer and Twitch but you can also livestream on loads of other websites, like Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter.

Why do kids use video and livestreaming apps and websites?

Just like adults, a lot of kids use video chat to stay in touch with friends and family. Video chat apps include:

Livestreams of people showing other people how to do things are really popular.

A lot of young people visit sites like Twitch and Mixer to learn more about games. They might also use platforms like YouTube, TikTok or Instagram to learn about (or show other people how to do) loads of things, from make-up tutorials to making slime.

It’s pretty normal now for young people to share videos online. It might be to update their friends about what they’re doing, using Instagram or Snapchat, or take part in viral trends and challenges, using apps like TikTok or YouTube.

Kids love to get creative and a lot of video and livestreaming apps can be a great outlet for this. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat have fun filters and stickers kids can use to add personality to their videos. They might even try their hand at editing their videos before uploading.

It can be fun to create videos, whether solo or with friends. Apps like Smule let you record and upload your own karaoke versions of songs – and even sometimes sing with real celebrities! Other apps, like Dubsmash, let you create videos that are dubbed over with funny or trending audio. Some video chat apps also let you play games while you chat, like Houseparty

A lot of video sharing apps have ‘satisfying content’ which is relaxing to watch. This is different for different kids, but a lot of young people like videos of food being prepared or sensory clips (like ASMR). They might even use these apps for well-being, like mindfulness and meditation.


Video and livestreaming apps

What you should be aware of

Your child might come across content that upsets them on video or livestreaming apps and websites This could be anything from violent scenes in video games to somebody saying something negative on a live-stream.

Top tip: Talk to your child


Remind your child that they can talk to you if they see something that upsets them and remind them that it’s never too late to tell you about something that’s happened online. You can also remind them that they can talk to another adult they trust, like a teacher, or a counsellor at Childline.


Videos might be recorded or shared without your child’s knowledge or consent. Some apps tell you when other people have taken a screengrab or recording of your video but this doesn’t mean it can’t be recorded using another phone or device.

Some apps, like byte, let other users download videos which then be shared more widely on other social networks. This means if you upload a video it could end up in unwanted places and might end up out of your control.

Top tip: Talk to your child about what they’re sharing


Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.


Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging. Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as personal information, photos of their body or gossip. 


If something has been shared, reassure your child, offer support and thank them for speaking to you. Remind them they can always talk to you, another trusted adult, or Childline

Top tip: Know how to report


A lot of apps, sites and games have ways you can report, so before video and livestreaming, learn how to do this and show your child.


You should report any sexual videos or images to CEOP.

Livestreaming and video chat might make young people feel under pressure to behave in a certain way. This might be because they want people to watch, or keeping watching, their channel, or they might try to copy the behaviour of other users they follow. Often these apps and sites reward users who post a lot, which could put pressure on children to post more or in ways they don’t feel comfortable.  

Top tip: Reassure your child


Tell your child that if they’re ever asked to say or do something online they don’t feel comfortable with, they can always say no, end the chat or broadcast, and talk in confidence with you, another trusted adult or Childline.

Top tip: Create a family agreement


Before your child makes any videos or does any livestreaming, you might want to create a family agreement together.


We’ve created a simple template that you can use together to decide what’s good to do when video and livestreaming, and what you should look out for. Once you’re both happy, why not stick it somewhere in your home as a reminder and come back to review it regularly?


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