Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm Baffled By YouNow.

The kids of YouNow
We have our 14 year old niece with us for a week. This is a kid I love, and who I see a couple of times a year. She was smart, funny, athletic, did all kinds of sports.

Now, this year, not so much.

She spends nearly every minute on, a live streaming website and app that features hundreds of kids around the clock. They chat inanely to their followers, answer questions. They sometimes will be by themselves, always in their bedroom, or sometimes have sleepovers with friends and broadcast all night long.

Who follows these people? Well, other kids, obviously, but there are always comments posted under the video asking for things like: "Do the splits," "Kiss your friend," and "Show me your bare feet."

It's nauseating.

There are different "topics" like "girls," "guys," "dance," and the oddest, "sleepingsquad," which features kids 13 and above sleeping. And people watch it.

My niece tells me not to worry, that her mom thinks it's a "kick," but I drew the line last night when she was about to crawl into bed with the lights on and the camera phone operating all night.

Not in my house, I said.

I've watched over her shoulder for maybe a total of an hour this weekend and I'm so baffled and enraged and discouraged. There are moderators, and I guess if someone says "Show me your tits" enough times, they get "banned." The same people, my niece tells me, just change their user name and come back.

"Do you ever reply to these people?" I asked.

"I show my feet," she said. "I have pretty feet."

I told her mother about all this in a phone call and I think I laid it on thick enough that she might do something about it. "The world is full of creeps," I said.

These kids, though, I kept thinking about them. They're going to be in college soon - because most of them really do look 13-17. They have been broadcasting themselves to a "world" of strangers. They have fans. They get "gold bars" which convert into real money and gifts from their viewers.

I can't wait for the week to be over.

Here's an article from HuffPo that does a better job of discussing the issues.

And here's a 13 year old girl twerking. During it she says, "Love me, love me." I wish I were making this all up. Screenshots all come from my niece who I'm taking out of the house today no matter what it takes.


  1. You're right, Hiram. Nauseating. I did blur the faces in the photos, though. I'm sorry, I know it's public and anyone with a phone or computer can see them, but I thought it was the right thing to do.


  2. Today is a nice, relaxing day with nothing to do. It's a good opportunity to complete my daughter's applications for the convent.

    We could ruin this for the kids by asking them if they've completed their homework, or offering tutoring. Making it educational ruins everything.

  3. First I've heard of it. I guess that's where all the kids went when they left facebook. And yes, it sounds troubling on multiple levels to me, too.

  4. This is why my daughter, who is going to be 11 in a week, does not and will not have a smart phone or her own computer in her room. This was advice parents were told more than 10 years ago when cyberbullying became a thing.

    I just can't wrap my head around this. Except that I can. And it makes me so unbelievably sad.

    And not just because these kids will be our students in a few years, with their increased need to be validated in their existence at all times.

  5. As Mike Royko observed, the only way to discipline children today is taking away their dope.

    1. Pot seems such a quaint worry these days.

  6. To discourage the broadcasting of questionable activities, and to make the site less attractive, the parents could follow their own kids. They wouldn't have time to be there as much as their kids, but their occasional presence would discourage them. On occasion, a "lucky" parent would actually catch a kid doing something wrong.

    Now, of course, the parents may just not know what their kids are doing. However, that niece does have relatives who know. Instead of preventing her activities, it would be easier to just sign up there and let her know about it. Actually appearing wherever she is would work even better. For instance, if she knows the relative's user name and a perfectly innocuous comment is posted under that user name while she's there, it is clear that she is being watched.

  7. I first saw this around 6-7 years ago on Ustream. I was impressed by the technology and puzzled by the people using it. Ultimately, though, isn't it the same business model as David Brooks and Mark Shields sharing themselves for money?

  8. Anyone else remember JenniCam (in its first inception)? Jennifer Kaye Ringley was considered a conceptual artist for allowing people on the internet to view her going about her daily life. I think it ended up being called Lifecasting.

    This seems like it offers a way for all of us to be lifecasters!

    How sad that adolescent girls are so attracted to this kind of thing! And so ignorant of what it really means, to be ogled by perverted internet strangers.

    I like Monica's idea of following her. Also, talk talk talk to her about it. About why people are watching her, what they are probably doing while they watch, what the dangers are. Have her read the HuffPo article. See what she says about it.

  9. When we discovered my stepson's Tinder account, his mother took out her laptop and had him enter their address on a Megan's Law website and then read the crimes committed by about a half dozen of the finest people who live within walking distance. He didn't know what some of the words meant, so she gave him a dictionary. Silent tears emerged and he deleted his account.

  10. Show. Me. Your. Bare. Feet.

    Just . . . no.