The dangers of live streaming all parents should know about
The key is to teach your teen how to fend for themselves should they encounter the dangers of live streaming
With the advancement of technology comes all sorts of new comforts: paying by apps, social media and even apps that help to deliver your groceries. Among the youth of today, though, there’s another rising trend: live-streaming videos. The dangers of live streaming, however, still remain hidden. Parents should be more cautious in shielding their tweens and teens who are vulnerable to being exploited by others and exposing themselves to sexually inappropriate content.
What is live streaming? Why do youth live-stream themselves?
In essence, live-streaming apps allow kids to broadcast their private activities like chatting idly, singing, or even finishing their assignments in real-time.
For many teenagers, live streaming is more than just a hobby. It’s a way of meeting “new people”. Live streaming also enables kids to become included within the local community, and even connect with new people face-to-face.
As such, it makes sense that many young people spend a lot of time on live streaming apps daily. Unfortunately, there are hidden dangers of live streaming which most kids and their parents aren’t aware of.
Dangers of live streaming: Exposure to inappropriate content
For instance, a male stranger displayed his private areas to one teenage girl. She even witnessed a couple engaging in sexual intercourse.
Clearly this sort of streaming isn’t permitted, but inappropriate content still gets streamed because “the administrators can’t stop what they can’t see first”, according to the girl.
Another 18-year-old live streaming teenager, who only wished to be identified as Ms Koh, also witnessed something horrific. She witnessed her niece, aged 10, using a live-streaming app – and watching someone else strip their clothing.
Eventually, she came to understand that one of her female peers was also requested to undress while playing with the live-streaming app.
Other dangers of live streaming
The dangers of live streaming don’t just lie in real-time pornography, though. Viewers – whether teens or not – who frequently use live-streaming apps may risk:
- unintentionally or indirectly revealing sensitive information, like personal details
- becoming attracted to “virtual gifts” in exchange of doing something else in return.
- spending money on live-streaming apps. China’s live-streaming celebrities are able to obtain over S$960,000 annually.
Which apps are used for live streaming in Singapore? Are they doing anything about this issue?
Surprisingly, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube aren’t the most popular live-streaming networks in Singapore. In fact, the most popular live streaming platforms are apps which allow people to socialise with strangers, chat with them in real time and play games, like:
- Bigo Live, which requires users to be at least 17;
- 17 Live, which also requires users to be at least 17
- YouNow which only needs users to be at least 12
- Belive which only needs users to be at least 12
- and Uplive.
Normally, streaming companies have systems in place to limit obscene or pornographic content. Here are a few examples:
- M17 Entertainment uses technology to detect inappropriate content that people post.
- BeLive, also employs a team to moderate inappropriate content. According to Ken Ang, Belive’s chief operating officer, the team monitor streams “24/7” and that their technology uses its “own image recognition tools” to recognise nude images.
- Bigo Live is no different, employing a group of “censorship officers” to examine and filter streams. They also have censorship technology that makes use of artificial intelligence to scan faces and predict how old the user actually is.
Tips to help parents curb the dangers of live streaming
- Jo Ann Chen, a live streaming host, says that teenagers should learn street-smart tactics, such as by setting “your location to private so that people don’t know where you are” and not revealing “personal details.”
- Installing parental control apps, like the Family Link app on your teen’s smartphones, can also help you to oversee what your teens are doing using their smartphones. The app can help a concerned parent restrict how long a teen uses their screens, lock the mobile phones, and even completely block specific apps which only you can unblock.
- Completely prohibit your teens from using live-streaming apps. The issue is, though, your teens might easily be able to find other less-trackable apps. The best method, then, is to educate them properly about the dangers of live streaming. Be honest, open and talk to your teens about what they should do if they are live streaming, such as by switching off location services.