Everyone’s talking about Meerkat and Periscope, but teens prefer YouNow

You might have been perturbed the first time you saw Edward watching Bella in her sleep in Twilight, but the two of them may have inadvertently started a trend. It’s actually not so uncommon now to watch even total strangers sleep, thanks to the live-streaming website YouNow. The service has attracted a large teenage audience, who will live-stream anything and everything that they’re up to, whether it’s just hanging out with friends, performing a talent, or even… well, sleeping. And as bizarre as it may sound, it’s really catching on.

Its predecessors Meerkat and Periscope are similar live-streaming apps, but they’ve been aimed at a more adult, news-digesting audience. YouNow, on the other hand, has been largely seized by teens, who are using the website to connect with other young people all over the world. Not only can you instantly broadcast yourself from wherever you happen to be, you can use the popularity of your particular stream to attract likes and more viewers and climb up in the ranks. If people really like your stream, they’ll even “tip” you using the points they can purchase through the app.

It’s not just for watching people sleep, either. People will sing, dance, give advice, and even host shows on all of the different channels, largely ruled by hashtags like #truthordare or #sleepingsquad.

Of course, with anything as accessible and hard to monitor as this, parents have raised concerns — or at least, the parents who know about it have. Kids as young as ten years old have easily logged onto the site, often without parental knowledge. The team at YouNow assures their user base that they are vigilant about keeping track of safety breaches on the site.

“We have a large responsibility because it’s live and because it’s very popular with teens,” said Sideman. “We invest a lot in our community management. We invest a lot in trust and safety in multiple languages to make sure that this is a safe place, and I’m very happy to say it is.”

In that case, if anybody wants to pay me to eat an entire jar of Nutella, I’ll most likely be logging on every Friday night.

(Images from here.)