I hated Snapchat from the moment it was released. As someone who has a decade-old blog, the idea of sending quick photos that disappear made no sense to me, other than for sexting or bullying people. I tried it, didn’t like it, deleted it.
With the arrival of Stories and Discover on Snapchat, it’s gaining more and more power, and not just with teens. Brands are creating pages there and I wanted to know why, so I re-downloaded it this weekend.
The interface continues to be terrible. Non-intuitive other than the idea that yes, I am supposed to take photos and share them… somewhere. I can “discover” little snippets from brands and swipe around to look at content in a completely disorganized way. I can press and hold to view… something?
But my friend Eric said, “Interface shminterface… you are missing the point.” (I admit the UI person in me is still bristling.) Then he sent along this video, which – yes, made waaay more sense than anything I had seen within the app.
OK. Cool. Teens like it. In fact, my 12 year old son has asked to download it.
I understand. As with anything, the kids want to be where their parents are not. As in, not Twitter and certainly not Facebook. The time was ripe for a social network that teens love and their parents hate. (For the record, I still hate Snapchat, so… well-played.)
Also, pretty much since Dex was a glint in his dad’s eye, we have been warning him that what he did online could affect his future. I can only imagine how sick young millennials are of this message. Ignoring how easy it is to share inappropriate or downright ugly photos (not sure which are worse in my book), I am sure these kids feel free and joyous and silly on Snapchat (all good things to be associated with young people) and are happy to not think about repercussions.
The problem is, there always are. Repercussions, I mean.
Snapchat does not create bullies, it enables them. It also gives a false sense of security that what you send will never go anywhere. People can still screencap what you sent, not to mention how the service itself was hacked. (Sure, texts can be hacked too, but apparently not many of us are as interesting as JLaw.)
Yes. As parents, we should be teaching the skills, not blaming the technology. Your behavior online (and everywhere) should reflect the real you. I know my son would use Snapchat to text with his friends and that’s about it. And as he grows older, I also know we will be more willing to let him explore social networks that are popular among his peers – just like how my mom started letting me hang put with my friends in the mall without her and then drive myself there later. But for now, he’s still 12 and even technically still underage for Snapchat due to COPA.
I can only hope that teens latch on to another app that I like more in the next few years (doubt it) but in the meantime, conversations will continue.
- Why do you want to download Snapchat?
- What is everyone doing on it?
- How is it different than texting, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?
- What could go wrong on Snapchat?
- How would you handle it is someone was mean on Snapchat?
Like many of the questions I had to report back from the mall. My mom didn’t understand why I would want to hang out at the mall, but we worked through it to make us all feel comfortable with it.
Same ideas, different medium.