What Parents need to know about YouNow

younow iconYouNow is part of the new live streaming trend. The best way to describe YouNow is Live TV with audience participation. Instead of passively watching a video, teens can watch their favorite performer or classmate broadcast live and message them questions or comments. The person responds to them immediately during the live broadcast. YouNow has over 100 million sessions a month. Scrolling through these live broadcasts, I saw many young faces.

Teens appear to dominate YouNow. While teens make up the majority of performers, anyone can watch the live broadcasts without registering. Simply, go to YouNow and click around to watch trending people and topics. It is only if someone wants to take part in the chat or broadcast themselves live do they need to sign up. Teens must sign up through their existing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ account. Once they sign up, they create their public profile and start broadcasting.

younow search

I noticed many broadcasters had a fan base from YouTube or Vine and used YouNow as a way to interact with these fans. Consequently, you tend to see the same type of broadcasts you would see on YouTube. Teens are playing instruments, singing, giving make up tutorials or just talking. YouNow does have a few weird trends of its own such as #sleepingsquad. Here, kids film themselves sleeping and fans comment about them sleeping.

younow sleeping

The chats I saw were mostly fans remarking on how beautiful and talented the person was. Fans do ask personal questions. During a few live broadcasts, I watched fans ask performers how old they were and where they lived. A few times, I saw a fan post something negative, like “you suck” or ask them to take off their top. In these situations, the performer ignored the question or inappropriate comment and just went on with the show.

A teen filming live and interacting with strangers sounds like a recipe for disaster. Honestly, searching through YouNow it is a lot tamer than you would expect. Of the broadcasts I watched, I did not see anything really objectionable, save for the occasional F-bomb and some questionable wardrobe choices. Reading comments online, many users complain about being banned from YouNow. YouNow clearly spells out in its rules what is not allowed in a broadcast. The moderation team says it bans tens of thousands of users from YouNow every month to keep YouNow safe.

If you have a teen on YouTube or Vine and they are looking to expand their social media empire, you may want to watch out for YouNow. Before they start broadcasting live, here are few items to discuss with your teen.

 What do parents need to know?

  • Must be 13 and over. It is not just the broadcasters and fans who must be over 13. Anyone who appears in the live broadcast must be over 13.
  • Watch out for inapp purchases. Fans can spend real money to buy virtual gifts for their favorite broadcasters.
  • younow barsBe careful about sharing personal information. Teens should protect their privacy both on their profile and when chatting. I noticed many fans ask how old the broadcaster is, where they live or their Kik or ooVoo username. When performing on YouNow teens should not share personal information, include age, location, phone number, email or full name, even when talking to fans. Both the broadcast and the comments are public.
  • Review YouNow’s Rules & Community Guidelines. YouNow has rules of conduct for performers and fans. These rules are a great jumping off point for parents and teens to talk about what they can and cannot include in a broadcast.younow rules
  • younowblockKeep YouNow safe by reporting inappropriate content. If someone is being abusive in the comments or inappropriate during a broadcast, teens can click on comment or the broadcaster and choose report. When YouNow receives a report, they say a live moderator can connect in real time and take action if needed.
  • Not all fans are kind. Most fans will comment about pretty eyes and nice hair, some will ask questions and a few will make a mean comment. If a fan is behaving poorly, a broadcaster can block them. After clicking on the person’s profile, a user can click on the flag and choose block. Once blocked, the fan cannot chat during the broadcast, send a private messaging or post directly to the broadcasters profile.

Finally, even though it is live, it does not disappear. Everything is recorded. After a broadcast ends, the recorded video is on your YouNow profile for 3 days. Viewers can always take screenshots or copy part of the broadcast and share them on other networks. YouNow is very public. As with anything online, performers and fans should think first about why they are on YouNow and what they want to broadcast to the world.