Children as young as 6 donating money to streamers without parents’ knowledge

A study of 1,000 mums and dads of six to 16-year-olds who watch such content online found 17 per cent of kids have transferred cash to influencers and content creators on streaming platforms.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those who do this, spend money in this way on a daily basis, and 31 per cent do so every week.

Worryingly, 11 per cent of parents have discovered their little ones have given money to streamers – without them knowing. And a third of parents want restrictions on how much money their kids can donate to streamers online.

While 57 per cent of parents didn’t know kids can donate funds to content creators and streamers.

Says Dana Haidan, chief sustainability officer at Virgin Media O2, which commissioned the study:

“With children spending increasing amounts of time online, it’s incredibly important to be aware of what they might be doing.

“A hugely popular and fun industry in content creation and streaming has emerged in recent years and for many parents, this could be completely alien to them.

“It’s not general knowledge to those who don’t watch streamers that it’s possible to donate money to them, whether as a thank you for their entertainment or in order to access ‘VIP content’.”

Online consent is important

The study also found just 16 per cent of kids polled admitted they ask for their parent’s permission ‘every time’ they give money to streamers.

Reasons for not always getting their blessing included knowing they’d say no (18 per cent) and because their bank details were stored online so they assumed it would be fine (16 per cent).

The research also explored why children as young as six or seven are keen to donate money to streamers.

These include wanting to give something back to them (51 per cent), supporting their favourite channel (46 per cent), and because giving money ‘seemed fun’ (45 per cent).

Others did it to access to additional content (39 per cent) and to receive a public shout-out from the influencer (44 per cent).

Of those who earn money or receive pocket money, 77 per cent agreed they’d be likely to donate some of it to streamers.

Carried out through OnePoll, the study also identified the action taken by parents upon realising their kids had been spending money online without their knowledge.

Almost half (46 per cent) had no choice but to implement parental locks and controls. While 33 per cent took even more drastic action – restricting them from accessing the internet.

However, this isn’t to say all mums and dads are completely against their little ones donating to streamers. It emerged, if they were asked for permission, parents would allow their children to donate to streamers twice a month.

Adds Dana Haidan of Virgin Media O2, which has partnered with Internet Matters to provide advice for parents:

“Streamers produce amazing content which engage a massively broad audience.

“And many youngsters now see this as a potential career due to the rise in its popularity.

“It’s understandable and very kind that followers want to express their gratitude and support, but it’s important kids do so with the knowledge and consent of their parent or guardian.

“That’s why we’re helping adults to have positive conversations with children and young people about checking before they donate, and how to be safe and sensible online.”

Chris Price