Kunal Patel, Guest Contributor at News-Press
Social networks like Twitch are the new role models. How they influence your kids and culture.
Gone are the days of only knowing your neighbors and town residents. Thanks to the Internet and the expanding integration of technology, it has become exponentially easier to connect with people on the other side of the world. The rapidly spreading influence and reach of technology will continue to have a growing effect on younger generations.
Allow me to introduce you to a booming live streaming platform known as Twitch.tv. Purchased by Amazon for $970 million, Twitch is a popular online service for watching and streaming digital content. Twitch originally provided content for video games but has spread to include artwork, creation, music, talk shows and the occasional TV series. Currently, Twitch has 2.2 million content creators who share their work live with 10 million daily active viewers. This platform is most popular with millennials and younger generations who on average spend more than 20 hours a week on the website.
Combine the massive user base and content production of Twitch with one of the hottest cultural phenomena in the popular video game Fortnite, and you have the beginnings of one of the largest communities in the world. This 45 million player community includes professional athletes, celebrities, and the average person like you and me.
Tyler Blevins, also known as Ninja, is currently Twitch’s largest and most popular content producer. His content focuses on being one of the best in the world at Fortnite. On a daily basis, Ninja has more than 100,000 concurrent viewers, watching him stream the game live and most importantly interact with his audience and community.
Every stream on Twitch has a chat where viewers can talk to each other. There is also the option of privately messaging other users. Often viewers meet each other through a channels community and may even end up playing together. The next time someone younger tells you they are just playing or talking to a “friend” — perhaps you will inquire more as to just who this person is, because the answer may not be what you expect.
A few days ago, Ninja received a five-dollar donation from a viewer. The donation had a message attached asking the streamer on how to deal with the bullies at his or her school. The advice given to the viewer was to talk to their parents, teachers, or another authority figure at the school about the bullying. I have no problem with the advice, but why was the issue brought to this streamer instead of parents, teachers, or authority figures?
Online streamers and content providers are the new age role models. Each of the 2.2 million content creators and their audience have the ability to influence their viewer’s beliefs, daily habits, and actions. In relation to bullying and the negative school events that have been occurring all across the country, the possibility of negative advice or influences carrying forward and resulting in another event is not far-fetched anymore.
I have been focusing on Twitch the entire time, but replace that platform with even larger ones such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, YouTube, or any other social media platform that promotes connectivity amongst its users. With all of these platforms in consideration, the influential power and connections the Internet can facilitate are almost infinite. These influences can be both good and bad.
As a society, we must be aware of this and take an interest in what our friends, kids, and others are doing on the Internet and whom they are interacting with. It is impossible to know it all, but interacting with others face to face as much as possible and not through technological screens will make it possible to know the important details.
Kunal Patel is a tax accountant at Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co., P.A., and graduate of FGCU. He is also a member of The News-Press Young Professional Advisory Board