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Twitch criticised for encouraging streamers to spend an unhealthy amount of time online

Subathon events and financial model to blame.

Twitch has been criticised for not doing enough to support the mental health of its streamers.

A report on the Amazon-owned streaming platform by the BBC details concerns that streamers are encouraged to spend an unhealthy amount of time online, with damaging effects to mental health.

UK Labour MP Alex Sobel, chairman of Westminster's All Party Parliamentary Group on Video Gaming and Esports, said: "The platform really needs to think about its mechanics and changing the financial model to protect the health of streamers.

"They're set up to encourage people to be on there as long as possible to keep viewers, if they changed the mechanics, it could create a nudge effect to change how streamers operate to protect their health.

"This isn't a new problem, the platform has had a long time to think about this - surely now is the time for some action, they have a duty of care."

Sopel also believes Twitch should reduce its maximum limit of stream hours to "better protect the health of streamers". Currently this is set to 48 hours, but streamers often circumvent this by briefly stopping and restarting their streams.

This has led to "subathon" events where streamers are online for as long as possible to generate subscriptions from viewers. These were made popular by Ludwig, who set the record before moving to YouTube.

Now the record is 76 days, set by GhostInTheMachine last year. However, this is soon to be beaten by emilycc running a "Truman Show IRL" stream - at the time of writing, she's at 82 days.

Mental health charity Mind has written guidelines to promote healthy streaming, including how to banish trolls and protect personal information.

Stephen Buckley, the Head of Information at mental health charity Mind, told the BBC: "It's really important to consider the self care routines you can apply.

"Have some boundaries put in place, make sure you schedule in breaks to eat proper meals and stick to your planned finish time. Try to finish streams an hour or so before going to sleep and get outside for some exercise."

Mind is also keen to work with Twitch directly.

In response to the BBC report, a Twitch spokesperson said: "Our Creators are at the core of everything we do at Twitch, and their safety is our top priority.

"We're continuously working hard to make Twitch the best place to be a live streamer and build a supportive, engaged community, mental health support is crucial to that.

"Our Twitch Cares page provides mental health resources for any member of the community, and we're developing targeted programming to support Twitch streamers with challenges like burnout, boundary-setting, and other pressures that come with a career in online content creation."

You can read the Twitch Cares page here.

Twitch streamers have been campaigning for a fairer revenue split with Twitch for some time, with a UserVoice post from December 2020 recently becoming the most voted on post on the forum. A change in the revenue split may reduce the need for long subathon events, despite their supposed prestige in the community.

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