Should Teens Have Snapchat?

Should Teens Have Snapchat?

FIVE CONSIDERATIONS TO PONDER

Remember the good ol’ days when our biggest concern was the 3,000+ texts our daughters averaged per month?

Sure, young people still text, but with 84 percent of 12- to 17-year-old mobile subscribers having smartphones this year…apps are the new gateways of communication.

So what is the favorite communication app used by young people today?

Snapchat, “by a landslide.”

“Snapchat because it’s pretty much just texting, but with pictures of my beautiful face.” —a 16-year-old

Snapchat probably needs no introduction. It’s the extremely popular app that allows kids to take a picture or video, type about 40 characters, and then send it to whoever they choose…but then the content disappears between one and 10 seconds after being viewed.

Kind of. (More on that in a minute)

Snap is going gangbusters. They even expect to launch Snap glasses, called Spectacles, later this year. It’s a fun way to communicate. Young people love sending Snap’s quick pics to each other with its creative coloring options and its cool filters. That’s probably why it’s become one of teens’ and tweens’ favorite communication tools.

Yes, it’s kind of confusing when people talk about teens’ “favorite” apps. You’ll read one article talking about how kids’ favorite “brand” is YouTube (no doubt, a very popular site among young people), then you’ll read countless others (Statista, AdWeek, Pew…) citing Facebook and Instagram as the social media site most teens have, with Snap coming in third. Just bear in mind, some of those studies are now a year old, which we all know in tech years is like a zillion years old! And some of those studies aren’t asking, “What app do young people actually USE when they want to talk with their friends throughout the day?”

This is where Snap rules the roost.

My own daughters and their friends (now 19 and 21) use it constantly. That’s why Lori and I have it. We can keep up with what our girls are doing day to day (they are in college 500 miles away).

“So much homework!” – sent with a picture of their laptop open next to a stack of books.

“Morning coffee run!” – sent with a picture of their favorite Starbucks mug.

“Jealous!!!” – sent with a selfie, with jaw dropped, in response to Mom’s snap of the piece of cake she was eating.

Snapchat isn’t that perfect photo that users spend seven minutes doctoring to look better than reality. It’s a tool people use to show their friends what they are doing or feeling at that very moment, with an image that won’t be posted on a wall somewhere forever. It’s a “less demanding way to share than Facebook or Instagram.”

But it’s that very perception that pics are “ephemeral” or “temporary” that had most experts concerned about the app on the onset, myself included. It’s no secret that when the app launched, it was created as a safe way to sext.

After all…the picture disappears…right?

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Jonathan McKee
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources on TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan and his wife Lori live in Northern California.