YouNow: Broadcast, Chat, and Watch Live Video
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that YouNow is a live video-streaming and chat app. Both the user agreement and app stores specify that users must be 13 and older. Teens register using an existing social media account (Facebook, Twitter, or Google+), though they can view broadcasts without registering. Privacy is definitely an issue, but kids can change their usernames to something more anonymous than their Facebook or Google+ identities. YouNow clearly forbids nudity, sexual content, and bullying in its community guidelines, but there's no promise of oversight. Profanity is prevalent. Users can report violators as well as block specific viewers, but live streaming is totally unpredictable -- there's no way to ensure teens won't encounter objectionable live content. By posting, a user is consenting to YouNow using their videos however they wish, though the user retains ownership.
What's it about?
YOUNOW lets teens broadcast themselves live. They can see and respond to live chat or view other broadcasters and chat with them. Hashtags classify categories that viewers can search (#girls, #guys, #truthordare, #dance, #musicians, #sleepingsquad, #lgbt, etc.), and users can add broadcasters to favorites lists and receive notifications when they're broadcasting live. The number of viewers is shown, and broadcasters can start trending if they have lots of viewers. Teens can buy gold bars to use to send gifts to other broadcasters. Videos are only available live and can't be accessed after a few days (but another user could certainly use an external camera to film what's happening on screen); however, all user-generated content is retained and stored by the developers, so the content doesn't actually disappear.
Is it any good?
YouNow generates quite a bit of traffic -- teens showcase their musical talent, goof off, or just talk and respond to comments, which roll in continuously. Users do a pretty good job of keeping the rules in mind, though requests for phone numbers (which aren't allowed, per the user agreement) and profanity abound. Instead of observed iffy behavior, it's the potential for problematic content that might concern some parents. Some streams are a product of boredom -- there's a channel to watch people sleep -- and some showcase real talent; either way, there's definitely an interest in growing a fan base and getting more viewers, which may push some kids to do crazy things. It's also worth noting that many kids broadcast from their bedrooms, which may contain personally identifiable information. YouNow also reserves the right to reuse any content it wishes, so kids should know their posts could come back to haunt them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Review the app's rules together; discuss what's OK to share and what's not. Make sure teens understand that encouraging broadcasters to violate the rules can get them blocked, too.
Make sure kids understand that adults and teens both may be using the app and that it's up to them to protect their privacy. What's your kid's username? Where will he or she create posts? What kinds of comments warrant reporting?
Talk about general privacy and safety online, and check in with your kid about new content posted and viewed.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android
- Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
- Pricing structure: Free (Users can buy gold bars to be used to give emoji-style gifts to other broadcasters.)
- Release date: March 20, 2015
- Category: Social Networking
- Topics: High School
- Size: 52.00 MB
- Publisher: BNOW Inc.
- Version: 8.3
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 4.0 and up
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