Children being groomed on popular livestreaming site Twitch, NSPCC research finds

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Children are being groomed via the popular livestreaming site Twitch, the NSPCC has warned as new research found as many as 200,000 are being targeted across social media sites.

The charity found that Twitch was one of the most prevalent places where children reported being asked to send explicit material of themselves by adults, along with social media giants Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

The Amazon-owned site, where users livestream themselves playing video games, has exploded in popularity in recent years as young people flock to watch famous gamers play hit titles such as Fortnite.

Premier League stars such as Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Harry Kane are among the celebrities to have previously appeared on the site to stream gaming sessions.

However, the NSPCC warned that Twitch’s live streaming features made it particularly risky for grooming.

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy, said: “The boundaries between social networking and gaming sites are becoming increasingly blurred. And Twitch, like all apps that allow two-way communication and live streaming, present particular risks to children of being groomed.

“These sites need to ensure they are doing everything they can to protect children on their platforms.”

A Twitch spokesman said: “The safety of our community is a top priority and one in which we are perpetually investing.

“We take any issues or accusations of this nature extremely seriously, and as soon as we become aware of a possible instance of exploitation we swiftly take the content down and report it to relevant law enforcement as appropriate.”  

The NSPCC’s warning comes as it released the results of a survey of 2,000 11 to 17-year-olds that found one in 25 has received or been asked to send sexual material to an adult online.

When compared to the population of more than five million children in the UK of that age, the NSPCC estimates this means up to 201,000 are being subject to attempted grooming. 

According to the survey, the most common social media sites where children experienced grooming were Snapchat and Facebook, where one in 25 using those networks said they had received such requests.

The second most common sites were Twitch and Twitter, with one in 33 reporting having such experiences.

As a result, the charity called called for social media and tech companies to share more data with each help catch groomers and disable friend suggestion algorithms for children.



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