In this article we explore the harmful impact that Twitch (or any other game streaming platform) has on children. Not to say that all these platforms provide is harm to the consumer but it should be noted that, often, the evil will outweigh the good.
If you have kids or you are a minor yourself, you may already know that watching others play has grown into a massive industry. Essentially, Twitch was built to satisfy this need. YouTube was not but gaming became such a large part of the network that they developed a separate YouTube Gaming platform for easier interaction.
It’s all good. Or it seemed so until recently when news started breaking out about YouTube’s crackdown on children exploitation channels. You can read more about it here but the point of the story is – it is not a safe environment.
You may turn on nice Peppa Pig animations and YouTube algorithm may lead towards fake Peppa promoting hate, racism, etc.
Same goes to Twitch. Watching someone play may seem innocent, but you cannot control what they say or do on their channels.
The basic Principle: Playing v. Watching
Even if you are 100% guaranteed a child is not exposed to harmful content, there is another fundamental problem. Basically, we can be engaged in two types of activities – active or passive. Active would be reading a book, while passive – listening to an audio version. You CAN listen actively but what you often end up doing is listen to an audiobook while you are talking a walk or driving to work which means primarily, you are watching your road and the droplets of attention that remain are given for the audiobook.
Similarly, when you watch games, you watch them passively. That’s why you are never full, it is never enough. Because in addition to watching, you will also be talking to someone, making breakfast, etc. And when the episode ends you want more because you saw maybe 3 genuine minutes of content.
Playing is active. If there is a puzzle, you think! If there is story, you are reading it, emerging yourself into the gaming world and learning. As a kid, I loved games like Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic because as English as my second language, I was reading and learning so much.
Bringing the two points above together, watching others play for hours will never be as satisfying as doing it for yourself. Imagine, you read here and get a bonus. You start playing and win a jackpot. Is it the same as watching someone else win?
Of course not.
Following gaming streams has its advantages – you support the community, you can feel you belong to a group. That’s great but as a kid yourself, or a parent with kids, you should keep in mind the time spent staring at a screen – in the long run it’s not good for your brain.