Last Updated on 10th March 2023

Reading Time: 7.4 mins

March 9, 2023

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YouTube have begun rolling out a new livestreaming feature called ‘Go Live Together’. This guide to YouTube Go Live Together outlines what the feature is, what the risks are, and some top tips to help the children and young people in your care stay safer if they choose to livestream on YouTube.

YouTube Logo

What is YouTube Go Live Together?

YouTube Go Live Together is a new feature from the video streaming platform that allows users to become a ‘host’ and invite another user as a ‘guest’ to join their livestream.

Previously, YouTube only allowed their users to ‘Go Live’ on their own, with the only interaction with others available through live chat (or if the person was accompanied by someone else in the video itself). Go Live Together is currently only available on the mobile YouTube app, but plans to expand the feature to desktop webcam users are in progress.

Illustration of a split screen live stream with a boy at the top of the screen and girl at the bottom

Is it different from livestreaming on YouTube?

Go Live Together is a new feature included in the livestreaming option available to users on YouTube’s main platform. It is not available on YouTube Kids (a separate app for children under 13) or YouTube Supervised (an upcoming parent monitored feature).

Go Live Together is only available if a user meets the following criteria:

  • Users aged 13-17 must have 1,000+ subscribers to their channel.
  • Users aged 18+ must have at least 50 subscribers to their channel.
  • No livestreaming restrictions to their channel within the past 90 days (YouTube ‘restricts’ users who have broken their community guidelines).
  • A channel that has been verified by code (via text or phone call).
  • Enable livestreaming on their account at least 24 hours before first stream.
  • An Android 5.0+ or iOS 8+ device.

It’s worth noting that any child under the age of 12 who appears in a livestream must be visibly accompanied by an adult, according to YouTube’s guidelines. All livestream content is monitored by a mixture of machine learning (AI) on the platform and human moderators.

In both Go Live streams and Go Live Together streams, the host user is responsible for all content, guests, and moderators (other users chosen by the host to ensure their stream and live chat comply with YouTube’s terms, guidelines, and policies). This remains the case even if a guest or moderator does something inappropriate.

Why do young people enjoy livestreaming?

We know it may seem like a bizarre interest or mode of communication to older generations, but recent studies show that children as young as seven spend roughly three hours a week livestreaming.

This is not a strange concept to children or young people, but is becoming a normal part of their everyday online lives. There are many reasons a child or young person may be drawn to the idea of livestreaming, including:

  • Connection – Calls to Childline from children under 11 have risen by 71% in the last five years, with Childline delivering 5,564 counselling sessions on the issue of ‘loneliness’ in 2022. With this feeling on the rise among children and young people, they are more likely to look for ways to seek authentic connection and a sense of belonging or validation in the online world.
  • Imitation – Whether it’s their favourite streamer or their peers, a child or young person may want to copy the influences in their lives by livestreaming. The excuse “everyone else is doing it” might be a familiar one in this scenario and could seem like a valid excuse for being interested in streaming, especially if they are able to go live with a friend or a favourite creator.
  • Promotion – A recent study showed that 30% of UK kids listed ‘YouTuber’ as their top career choice, so they could begin streaming because they aspire to be successful and want to begin to build a following. They might also have a particular skill or talent they want to show off (e.g. playing piano, drawing, cooking, etc.) and receive live feedback from other users for.
female gamer live-streaming on her computer

What are the risks?

There are several risks of livestreaming options available on the platform. It is worth noting that all these risks are heightened when another person is directly involved in the stream (such as in Go Live Together), as the impact they might have could be harder to control or predict.

It is very difficult to control and monitor who views a livestream, meaning an increase in the potential for young people to be watched by and interact with strangers who wish to harm or exploit them.
While there are options for making a livestream public or private, it is hard to prevent someone sharing the livestream link with others through group chats, messaging boards, or social media.
Livestreams do not disappear when the host signs off. Viewers can use the livestream link to rewatch the stream later, share the stream with others, and potentially download the stream onto a device.
This term describes how a person is more likely to do or say things online that they wouldn’t offline. Peer pressure, excitement, or a desire to increase their subscriber count could encourage a young person to engage in risk-taking behaviour over a livestream.
Young people might promote themselves publicly on other platforms to engage with strangers to try and boost their subscriber count to a higher number, which could be harmful to their anxiety and self-confidence levels.
YouTube policies hold the ‘host channel’ accountable for the behaviour of guests and moderators during a stream, but fails to recognise that a young person may be just as surprised or upset by inappropriate actions and could be too overwhelmed to respond accordingly.
The risk of online bullying and ‘trolling’ is high on YouTube, especially as streamers can be very vulnerable with their audiences. Bullies get access to direct communication with the streamer (via live chat) and can watch them react in real time without facing any immediate consequences.
A streamer may unintentionally give vital pieces of personal information away during streams without realising what they have revealed. This can result in other users attempting to contact them on other platforms or trying to track them down in-person.
Those who stream harmful activity such as physical fights, protests, or the harassment of teachers could be considered compliant in potentially illegal behaviour or actions.

Case Study

Every piece of personal information shared online has the potential to be a jigsaw piece that, when put together with enough other pieces, can be used to complete a puzzle: the details of who a person is.

For example, 13-year-old Sarah is livestreaming under her YouTube account SarahT13. During a livestream, a viewer asks for her Instagram handle, which Sarah shares with the whole audience. Sarah would love to be an influencer one day, so all her accounts are set to ‘public’ to try and grow her follower account. This creates a way for strangers to message her privately, but also to find out more about her through her profile. On her Instagram, Sarah has photos of her and her friends in their school uniforms. She also has her Snapchat username in her bio.

Now, any viewer of Sarah’s stream (whether they are watching live or later), knows her name, what she looks like, what school she attends, and how to contact her on three different platforms.

Top Tips

Ask if they watch any livestreams and if so, who do they enjoy watching and what do they like about them. Then ask if they ever livestream themselves. Remember not to overreact – any sense of panic or overreaction could shut the conversation down.
Discuss what’s not appropriate to share online with others, such as personal information about where they go to school, where they live, and their other social media accounts. Talk about background details in videos and how they can be used to get information we might not know we’re giving away.
If a child is asking for permission to livestream themselves and you have agreed, it’s important to be involved. Help them understand policies, monitor streams, and step in if necessary. By working together, you can ensure they have a safe and enjoyable livestream experience.
Have a conversation about the pressures of gaining likes, subscribers, and followers online. Reassure the young person in your care that online popularity is not the ‘be all and end all’ and that it doesn’t define who they are or how loved they are by family and friends. This is especially true for any behaviour that could be harmful or illegal.

Make sure they know how to block and report someone, even if you don’t think it’s likely they will participate in livestreaming. You can find out how to do that by downloading the Safer Schools NI App via your device’s app store or by visiting Our Safety Centre.

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