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“YouNow” – Kids enjoy it but it could turn out to be Every Parent’s Nightmare!

20 Feb , 2015  | by:

YouNow is a website that went live in the US in 2011 and just came to Switzerland and the rest of the German-speaking world in 2014. It allows its users to broadcast themselves online via their webcam wherever they are and whenever they want. Apparently, it’s the “new place to be” online, especially for teenagers as they are migrating from Facebook to YouNow so as to avoid their parents. Too many parents are on Facebook, so they say.

One of the widest read Swiss Newspapers, the “Tagesanzeiger”, just wrote an article “Intime Blicke ins Kinderzimmer” about this “new and improved” social media platform. The conversation they cited between a 16 year-old girl and an (allegedly) 19 year-old boy is really pretty creepy. Here’s a taste of what can happen on YouNow:

Chico_19* schreibt: «Bisch würklich es mega Häsli.» (“You’re very pretty!”)
Seraina sagt in die Kamera: «Danke.» (“Thanks.”)
Chico_19: «Vo wellem Kanton bisch?» (“Which Canton do you live in?”)
Seraina: «Züri.» (“Zurich.”)
Chico_19: «Ich au. Hesch en Fründ?» (“Me too. Do you have a boyfriend?”)
Seraina: «Nei.» (“Nope.”)
Chico_19: «Wieso isch so e Hübschi solo? Hesch mega schöni Lippe.» (“How come? You have gorgeous lips.”)
Seraina: «Danke.» (“Thanks.”)
Chico_19: «Uf was für Boys stahsch?» (“What kind of boys do you like?”)
Seraina ignoriert die Frage und dreht die Musik lauter. (Seraina ignores him and turns the music louder)
Chico_19: «Stah uf, wet dich ganz gseh.» (“Stand up, I want to see your whole body.”)
Seraina reagiert nicht. (Seraina doesn’t react)
Chico_19: «Verzell mol öpis über di.» (“Tell me something about yourself.”)
Seraina: «Han im August Geburtstag.» (“My Birthday is in August.”)

Sort of creepy, right? No! Really creepy! The problem with this website is the same as with other platforms, a lot of teenagers are sharing personal data with random people they don’t know. And it’s really easy to put the pieces together and figure out where they live or go to school. Especially, when some of them are even broadcasting from their own school. In the example above, Seraina used her real name, told Chico which Canton she lives in and gave him and everyone else who was watching her birthdate. From a privacy perspective this is very fishy! The site is public (although I haven’t gone into the details of the privacy settings yet) and it kind of reminds me of the website “Chatroulette” that has definitely gotten out of hand, if you ask me.

Experts are worried about the criminal side to all of this. They are scared that YouNow could be every pedophile’s dream, and that a lot of kids aren’t aware of the dangers that lure in this new social media website! However, the article does state that teenagers are well aware that they shouldn’t be sharing personal details about themselves publicly, but as the convo above shows they still do. Moreover, experts are worried that pedophiles will use the website for so-called “grooming” (in Switzerland grooming is still legal and will remain so for the foreseeable future), and the kids don’t even understand what’s happening… In the US YouNow has already set-up a team that is working 24/7 on identifying users who are mis-using the site and banning them from it. But it’s a lot of work and you never know what else could happen.

Anyways parents I just thought I’d give you a heads up. Unfortunatley, I couldn’t find a good article in English, do let me know if you read one recently!

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2 Responses

  1. Stefan Kulk says:

    From Bild: The German Minister for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth has warned against use of YouNow.

    Minister Manuela Schwesig:

    “Kommunikationsplattformen wie YouNow sind für Kinder gefährlich und für Jugendliche problematisch. Wer diese Plattform nutzt, ist unmittelbar für alle im Internet sichtbar. Kinder und Jugendliche sind der Gefahr ausgesetzt, ein leichtes Opfer sexueller Belästigung zu werden. Zudem besteht die Gefahr, Opfer von Cyber-Mobbing zu werden. Viele Jugendliche kennen das bereits.”

    Which roughly translates as:

    “Communication platforms like YouNow are dangerous for children and problematic for teenagers. Those who use YouNow are immediately visible to everyone on the internet. Children and teenagers can become easy victims of sexual harassment. They also run the risk of becoming victims of cyberbullying. Many young people have already experienced those sort of things.”

  2. Kimberlydawn Mostenkirk says:

    Not to mention, that it’s creating a culture of shallow narcissism. Why do you NEED to be watched every second? That points to a lack of confidence and inner peace, just like the little kid who keeps insisting, “Look at me! Look at me!” You are a product of society, instead of your “own person.” You just become a “thing.”

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