How to approach streaming and creating content for kids
Television is no stranger to our family. Usually there is some version of kids’ programming on screen, whether it’s family movie nights or streaming services like Netflix Kids or Disney +, some kid-friendly content is always playing – even. at night when everything is quiet, I can still hear children’s songs haunt my living room. When we can’t take it anymore and need some semblance of adult communication, we usually pledge our son out of our TV on his own streaming devices like his tablet. He enjoys his own programs at his own pace, and mom and dad enjoy a moment of peace.
That’s when we discovered his love for watching people do things he could currently do on his own, like playing with toy cars or flying a kite. YouTube Kids lets kids watch whatever they want while letting parents rest, knowing that its content is specially designed for little minds. The videos are usually cartoons that you can find on most kid friendly channels, but people have also started making live action videos of… well, some of the weirdest things. The first videos I remember our son obsessed with were called unboxing videos. The kids – and sometimes the adults – would film themselves opening brand new toys and playing with them for a little while, and the kids loved it. If I let him, he would stick to this thing for hours.
Now that he’s a little older, his taste for videos has changed. He still listens to the cartoon every now and then, but he seems to have moved on to bigger and better things. He found Twitch, a streaming service where gamers can tune in and view their gameplay in real time, allowing fans to follow. You can stream the app to your phone, tablet, or computer and you can watch the streamers play almost any game you can think of. Is the platform a lot of fun, but safe for kids? Not really. YouTube is another favorite because he can watch clips from the video games he likes. But there are still links on the side of the page that allow easy access to other content, making it difficult to keep track of what they’re looking at.
I always preach to keep our kids safe online, so I mention that giving kids access to Twitch is a bit counterproductive. The site does not offer parental controls and users under the age of 13 are not allowed to have an account, so they do not promote it to children either. The good news is, it means more family time! When we watch streamers, it’s always together. I rely on myself to be the parental control settings, that way we can avoid mature content, and I participate in whatever type of programming they choose. Not only do I think you need to be involved with what your kids are watching, but I think it’s important for parents to do some research and understand how streaming and platforms work. The more tools you arm yourself with, the better you will protect your children.
One of our favorite streamers and content creators is @intensejames. It can be found on most social media platforms like @intensejames, but we tend to favor our Twitch and YouTube channels. He started releasing family-friendly game content on a daily basis after the start of the pandemic and quickly became passionate about it. Originally, he worked in the gaming industry and created Fortnite videos for Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube as a hobby. It was important for me to find someone I knew who was dedicated to creating a safe space for families, so that I could relax a bit, sit back and enjoy with my son.
I recently had the chance to have a chat with @intensejames and found it fascinating how someone with no regular experience with children managed to create a series of content across multiple platforms, while still keeping one place clean and safe for us to introduce our kids to streaming and video game content. He said he chose to broadcast to all ages, believing it “can make it interesting for families to spend time together during these difficult times.” I am inclined to agree. It was great to take a break from good ol ‘Peppa Pig and enjoy some in-game content I can trust. Not just to watch, but also to learn. Many streamers give tips and tricks in the games they play, so that you and your child can improve while you have fun!
Most @intensejames viewers and subscribers are teenagers, but many are younger and range in age up to people in their 60s. He also invites his viewers into the stream to play with him in the game. The game has been around for a long time, and now each generation has the chance to experience these new platforms together. Most streamers will assign moderators to their platform, these people control the chat room by removing, blocking, or banning inappropriate users or comments from the page. This allows the streamer to keep the chat clean and ensure it is a safe online environment for all ages. However, chatting isn’t the only challenge, as many adults are the broadcasters, and we know we don’t always have the best habits with our tongue. My children certainly know a few words that I would rather not admit to teaching them. @intensejames said that being aware of this in all of his content has helped him become a better role model for young people.
As a mom and a small-scale streamer myself, finding a way to do the things I love while still keeping my content appropriate for the most impressionable viewers is really important to me. I started using a program called Streamlabs OBS which helps me customize, stream, and even moderate my streams. This means I’m better able to do things like tag my feed in case it’s not a game aimed at young audiences or control what people say in my chat room so I can make sure it is a safe place when I broadcast to younger spectators. The major version of the software allows me to stream to multiple platforms simultaneously if I want to. I have connected my Twitch, Facebook and YouTube account to my account, but so far Twitch has been my favorite. I find it easier to navigate for myself, and while it is easy to navigate for me, I can better make sure that what I’m watching with my son – or what I’m streaming with d ‘other kids – is the right kind of content for us. Streamlabs OBS comes with apps that allow streamers to engage their viewers, so far the cutest I’ve found is Bongo Cat, and cute must count for something.
My son is also obsessed with his father’s small-scale YouTube channel, where he posts pre-recorded clips from Fortnite, many of which featured our child. It’s fun to watch him light up when he sees his character running across the screen. , or when he remembers a particular battle. Recently he found out that I was streaming after he went to bed. Boy was that an argument. He started going out after bedtime most nights to try and catch me in the act and spent most of his free time begging me to let him broadcast too. One afternoon I went live on Twitch on Animal Crossing: New Horizons without a camera or voice chat. I let him run around and watch himself on the computer screen, and he basically felt like he was famous. Let’s be clear, I have very few viewers, but to him he felt like he was on top of the world. Sometimes it only takes a few moments to share your hobbies to make your kids feel on top of the world.
My brother took the same approach with his eldest, my niece. We are a family of gamers and nerds to say the least. At the moment, he has several projects in the works, including a podcast and his own feed. Recently my 10 year old niece has also taken up the hobby. It allowed her to start her own YouTube channel where she creates all of her own content, saves it, and then asks her dad to edit and upload it. It has become a little hobby that they can do together, daddy / daughter time, if you want. Our kids see what excites us, they see what we do, and they also want to be included, in any way they can. I can’t think of a better way to bring us together while still honoring our basic geek natures.
Allowing time in front of a screen before bed is supposed to be a giant no-no, but sometimes it melts my heart to see my son cuddle up in his father’s lap and whisper – in his most manipulative voice. sweeter – “Just one more video, Daddy?” “I love seeing them share an interest that excites them and makes them spend quality time together, even if that sometimes means staying awake a little late.
Whether you are streaming movies, playing games, or watching live streams, as a parent it is just as important to make sure your child enjoys what they are doing as it is to make sure they are doing it. safely. Do your research, find the right platform for your family, and look for streamers and content creators that meet your needs and values. They can play Fortnite or Mario Kart, Minecraft or Rocket League, there are family makers for everyone. For you to find them !