Title: VYou or Video You
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free
Many teens use social media as a way to connect with others and share their knowledge. VYou lets you do this by posting questions and inviting others to answer via a video recording. There are many ways libraries can use VYou to enrich services and extend conversations well beyond the time the physical building is closed. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask questions related to an upcoming speaker/author
  • Start a dialogue about characters in a book many teens are reading
  • Celebrate National ___ Month by posing questions about the topic
  • Have teens generate questions related to a current event or an issue that’s important to them

The way the VYou app works is that first you sign-up for the site via the app. Then you can browse through questions and watch people’s answers, ask a question by typing it into the app, or answer a question by recording a video. You have 30 seconds to record the answer and then can choose to automatically upload to VYou for all to see.

Inviting teens to ask/answer questions not only gives them a chance to work on their presentation skills, but they have to do so succinctly as they only get 30 seconds to share what they think. While many of the questions as well as the answers might be superfluous and it’s not necessarily meant to be a platform to get or give sound professional advice, it can be a great place for teens to work on developing their opinions, tastes, and knowledge about the world around them. It’s also an opportunity to talk with teens about smart and safe behavior in social environments. You can talk about questions to ask using a tool like VYou and what should and shouldn’t be included in a video answer.

I have one caveat about the app that came from use of it by a colleague. My colleague decided to use VYou to ask teens their thoughts related to drugs and alcohol (For example, is drinking worse than smoking pot?). We did this because it fit in with a performance on this topic being sponsored by the theatre that shares space with the library. We asked teens the questions as they were leaving the theatre and recorded their responses.

The app on our iPhones only allowed one person to answer a question at a time, which was disappointing. It can be time consuming to have the questions answered one by one, shoot each video, and publish it to VYou–taking more time than was possible as teens left the theatre. My co-worker ended up using VYou in conjunction with YouTube. Even though this is a barrier to use, we are still experimenting with VYou and like the possibilities so far.

Some VYou groups you might want to check out include:
John Green
Oprah Winfrey book club
Penguin UK books

For more great apps to use with your teens, visit the App of the Week archive.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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