source: | 2000 Games, Devotions, Themes, Ideas and more for Youth Work
only for private using

YouNow: A harmless hype or dangerous trend?

Although the platform YouNow exists now for three years, since Christmas 2014 it experienced a new publicity in Germany. The users are in particular young people between the age of 15 and 25 years, and now increasingly younger teenagers. Youth protection criticizes this platform for several reasons. One of them is the too easy-going control of age. However, the popularity of YouNow among adolescents and young adults does not diminish.

What's YouNow?

YouNow is a streaming service which enables users with only 2-3 clicks to show (expose) themselves on the internet. All you need is basically a computer, the internet, a webcam and a microphone and the respective app. Alternatively, you could also use a Smartphone. No further knowledge or effort is necessary.

To publish videos, the users only need a Google Account or alternatively an account with Facebook or Twitter. Moreover, YouNow offers a chat feature, where viewers can comment on videos and likewise can talk with the person streaming the video.

What makes YouNow so attractive to young people?

Especially the easy handling makes the platform YouNow attractive to youth.
Especially the easy handling makes the platform YouNow attractive to youth.
©: goldencow_images - Fotolia

Especially the easy handling makes the platform attractive to youth. They advantage with this app is that people using it, do not need to record the video first, edit it and upload it to a later time. They can start streaming right here and now from their Smartphone.

Moreover, in spring 2015 a new feature was introduced to YouNow. Creators of videos can earn money through virtual gifts. Viewers can either distribute chargeable likes or buy virtual gold bullions, which can be gifted to the producers. The prices of gold bullions vary depending on how many users are willing to buy. For example, a package with 6,500 bullions sells for 37.99 Euros. According to US experiences, this gives every video producer the potential to earn up to several hundred Euros per stream. In return, for the virtual gifts, preferably the news of the audience is answered and, therefore, moving up the fan list and, so to speak, receiving a VIP place.

That’s why YouNow is criticized

Youth protection criticises YouNow for several reasons. Here are their main arguments:

Careless use of the web

One of the dangers is paedophiles or stalker. YouNow gives them the opportunity to buy the trust of underage users with gifts and ongoing chats. The potential victims could be lured to reveal personal information such as name, phone number or address and thus may create serious problems for the affected young people. Especially if they agree to meet in person.

Privacy and Rights

If a video is recorded at a party or any other public space, in some circumstances, this might infringe on third party rights. This is the case whenever other people are recognizable. Even music, playing in the background can pose a problem because GEMA could demand fees for the use of music. Both can have expensive consequences for maybe unsuspecting video producers.

A virtual world - venal affection or recognition

Another point of criticism is the paid, virtual gifts. The reason is that people who pay for the video get favourable treatment. That might lead to a situation where young people are tempted buying those virtual gifts for the producer to draw attention to themselves. They get the feeling or at least are encouraged to believe that affection can be bought. Also, they may be tempted to spend way too much money. Theoretically they can use the same payment method as their parents. - If the parents used the Smartphone of the child, to pay, for example, for an app.

Users’ obligations

YouNow also managed to bind the user to itself. Everybody can use the virtual coins by recruiting new members. Respectively, they also can earn those coins by extended periods of streaming their own video. Of course, the consequence of that is, that the young person rather spends time on YouNow, instead of using the time for studying or kicking the footy with friends. The fear of losing their once earned VIP position, the pursuit of recognition and perhaps the hope of becoming famous one day, making big money, young people are tempted to make the live streaming the centre of their lives.


After the first wave of criticism of YouNow, the provider responded by putting out some rules. Among them, the producer is not allowed to expose himself in front of the camera and the age limit for new registrations was put up to 13 years. However, the age restrictions are still too weak. For example, for the age verification at the login, a pop-up window appears asking the user if he was 13 or older. However, that never held up anyone under 13.

Implementation in youth work

I could imagine that a group lesson to the topic YouNow would spike some interest. The objective should be, making the young people understand the dangers that come when presenting oneself on the net. Another lesson could be to work out why some young people feel the need to expose themselves in that manner on the net.

To conclude, there are a few behavioural guidelines.


  • The young person feels like a failure at school or at work and escapes into the virtual world of YouNow. There he receives the desired attention and recognition, and, if he has enough money, the latter can be bought.

  • For once the young person wants to be on top of life. In YouNow, you can do just that by purchasing your VIP recognition. This kind of attention was not bestowed on him in real life.

  • Socializing on the faceless internet is much easier than face to face in the real world. In real life, those young people might have difficulties to socialize, has inhibitions and fears to reach out to other people. (Classmates, adults, etc.) He might also feel very insecure in a larger group of people.

  • Many Likes - many listeners - a lot of gifts - a lot of recognition (seemingly)

Possible dangers:

  • Paedophiles or stalkers try to sneak into the young person’s life, preying on their trust and eventually will want to meet. However, those predators wait patiently until the young person suggests such a meeting.

  • Spending money for the purchase of recognition. The danger here is that the young person has no understanding of the value of money.

  • YouNow - a virtual world: here I am someone, here I can buy recognition - in the real world I feel like a failure. Thus, young people do not learn to find their way later on in the real life.

  • The loss of reality is high. Striving for recognition and virtual money can tempt the young person to say or even do things which the “net never forgets”. Everyone can watch and even record your video. The floodgates for bullies are open! Things might go well at the moment, however, years later, maybe through a wall post on Facebook an inappropriate video of yourself has the potential to catch up with you. You become your own undoing. Particularly when you are applying for a job and the recruiters search the internet and are confronted with such an inappropriate video of the applicant.


  • Don’t give out any recognizable details of you. No emails, no phone numbers, no home address, no picture of your living environment, no pictures which display the name of your school or clubs you might hang out.

  • Likewise important: never give out the name names of friends. Cross-checking of accounts and wall posts could lead to conclusions about your location and if possible your name and address.

  • Never arrange a meeting (That should set off all alarm bells)

  • Do not show bare skin (and if someone prompts you to, that to should set off your alarm bells as well)

  • No music in the background (because of expensive GEMA fees (GEMA = a performance rights organisation in Germany, like Harry Fox Agency (HFA) in USA, or PRS for Music Limited in United Kingdom)

  • No streaming out of your classroom or displaying uninvolved persons or persons younger than 13 years of age.

  • Disable in-app purchases to protect you from a possible financial disaster.

Providing support

The search for recognition, friends and self-esteem is a need, which every person harbours. If we succeed to give children and adolescents this recognition and self-esteem, then there is no need for them to go looking for it on the internet, in an anonymous and virtual world through ill-considered actions.

A discussion about the (psychological) motives and the pointing out of (possibly existing) internal needs, creates awareness.

Self-critical questions why and how might give you insights about how you would like to present yourself on YouNow. A first step!

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork