The popular gaming platform Twitch has been told by online child safety experts to crack down on a fresh wave of content that has pornstars seductively licking microphones in their bras.
Twitch is primarily used for viewing videos of other people playing games — with 31million Americans logging in every month, a quarter being 16 to 24 years old.
But now content creators are increasingly coming onto the platform in the hopes of netting viewers for alternative, and more explicit, content.
Now, instead of video games and e-sports, sexualized ‘ear-licking’ live-streams, where scantily-clad women lick, rub and breathe into microphones while audiences watch and listen, are posted all over the platform.
The content is categorized as ‘ASMR’ — or autonomous sensory meridian response, a tingling sensation throughout the body usually triggered by sounds such as whispering, tapping or brushing.
Videos tagged as ASMR attract millions of viewers, with hundreds of streams available on the platform.
Critics, such as child safety organizations and parents, say Twitch is putting children in harm’s way by exposing them to ‘inappropriate’ and ‘sexual’ content at an early age.
Explicit videos posted to the platform — bearing titles such as ‘Obey your Queen!’ and ‘cozy girlfriend cuddles’ — show women wearing few clothes while making suggestive movements on microphones, some of which are shaped like human ears.
Their profiles link to OnlyFans and Patreon accounts — websites famous for their adult-only content — with a subscription costing from as little as $3.50 per month. Videos there have titles including ‘I will SPANK you. Get on your knees’ and ‘let the maid please you’.
Urging Twitch to clean up its act, a spokeswoman from online child safety organization Bark US — which gives Twitch two out of five stars for child safety — said they were ‘not a fan’ of the platform’s content.
‘Overall, the potential for toxic interactions on Twitch is too high and doesn’t outweigh the benefits of watching video games, no matter how fun it may be,’ they said.
‘Apart from the violent video games that streamers may play on Twitch (of which there are many), the primary danger to kids is inappropriate content.’
They added: ‘Profanity, sexual content, derogatory terms, and much more are possible in both the on-screen text chat as well as verbally by the streamer’.
Bark US also offers a pay-for platform to help parents stop their child visiting potentially unsafe websites online.
The NSPCC — a child safety organization in the UK — also raises concerns over Twitch, warning there are ‘no safety settings in place that stop children and young people accessing certain channels or chats’.
ASMR is a term coined by cybersecurity expert Jennifer Allen in 2010 and it has since spread rapidly online.
Adherents claim the tingling sensation linked to the triggers can prompt relaxation, relieve stress and enhance focus — despite there being little scientific evidence to support the claims. By 2019, only ten studies into the practice had been carried out.
On Twitch, however, the term appears to have been co-opted to mean women licking ear-shaped microphones while wearing very little clothing.
One of the top creators, who goes by the username SharonQueen and has more than 500,000 followers, posts videos every day with titles like ‘obey your Queen!’ and ‘look into my eyes!’.
Clicking on links in her profile reveals other links that connect to her OnlyFans and Patreon accounts — with the titles surrounded by squirting water emojis to indicate explicit content.
Navigating from Twitch to her Patreon profile — via a third website — reveals videos with titles like ‘take everything off?’, ‘give me the most sexy kiss you can give, my lips are waiting’ and ‘I will SPANK you. Get on your knees’.