A week is a long time in the world of smartphone apps. ‘Meerkat’ the live streaming video app is now up against it, with Twitter’s own rival ‘Periscope’. Periscope seems to have had quietened Meerkat down at least for a little while. But teens have not been as quick to move to Meerkat or Periscope – instead second launch around ‘YouNow’ seems to be the preferred live streaming app of teen choice. Why I hear you ask – Yes I too thought it was an April Fools….
On first inspection of the YouNow App it’s very strange indeed – to us adults. As soon as you launch the App it starts streaming a live video of a teen singing in what looks like her bedroom – there were over 333 people watching the live stream, with viewers commenting below the video in a live chat.
Oddly enough, YouNow App also allows you to pay a teen while he/she sings, dances, or even sleeps. Yup I did just say ‘pay’. According to the App’s description in the App store ‘YouNow’ is the best way to broadcast live and get an audience to watch you. YouNow encourages you to ‘Chat, meet new people and broadcast to start growing your fan base’. You can get your 15 minutes folks.. though this dosent seem to be long enough for teens – the last ‘performer’ on ‘dance’ had been on for over 4 hours, mostly talking to her viewers though – not dancing. (YouNow shows how long the user has been broadcasting). Most of the users I saw had been broadcasting from between 1.5 and 3 hours, singing, dancing or even sleeping’. Yes. Sleeping. #Sleepingsquad is trending.
On screen you can ‘Like the video’ as well as ‘Share the broadcast’ on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr – so you can see very easily how the content can spread.
The YouNow App seems to be a mashup of Vine and Chat Roulette, all mixed together in which you watch people live streaming in different channels. If you like a particular performance you can leave a tip. YouNow’s revenue model is based completely around the tipping system; they take a cut of the in-app purchases when fans buy points to tip the performers.
Now in terms of how the paying part works On YouNow App, coins are one form of currency that allows you to like up your favourite broadcaster to get them trending or to buy special gifts for your favourite amateur broadcasters (ie people you are watching).
Within YouNow there are a couple of ways in which coins can be earned. These include:
Maize police in Kansas have already issued a warning about the YouNow app, voicing concerns around ‘children being viewed and followed by adults, which could make them targets for sexual predators’ Eye Witness News 12 reported.
‘Anything that’s put out, as we know, can be captured whether it be in a screen shot or recorded from a remote device’ Maize Police Chief Matt Jensby said. ‘That’s what we fear is that inappropriate videos will be put out there, they will be captured and distributed elsewhere.’
This is another app which parents, teachers and anyone who works with children and young people need to be aware of. Teens are using it to broadcast content, much of it from the privacy of their own bedroom. Obviously this presents risk, particularly with younger users. Users can also watch content via the YouNow website or your webcam.
‘Do you worry that there’s creepy people on there’ Katie Notopoulos, a senior editor at Buzzfeed News asked an 11 year old girl on YouNow. ‘No not really’ she replied.
‘Do your parents know you use this app’
‘Does that matter. No. It doesn’t matter. They don’t know’