Amongst teenagers in the United States, Snapchat has been the most popular social platform of choice for many years now, overtaking the likes of Instagram. With Snapchat continuing to rise in popularity amongst its users and with other social networking platforms copying features from it, what actually is this app, and how do teenagers make use of it in their daily lives?
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a social media application that allows users to communicate and share their lives with peers. The initial unique selling point for Snapchat came from its implementation of disappearing photos and short videos. Users can capture photos or record short videos, add captions to them, (and more recently stickers and Augmented Reality filters), before setting a time limit and sending them to their friends. Those who receive these “snaps” can view them for a limited time before they disappear completely. Since Snapchat first came into the world, new features such as stories and the ability to create group chats have been launched.
How Do Teenagers Use Snapchat?
The primary purpose of Snapchat is for users to communicate directly with their friends and family while also being able to share stories on their friend’s list. Celebrities and media outlets are also increasingly taking advantage of Snapchat’s significant user base, with users now able to subscribe to the stories of their favorite stars.
Snapchat is generally a useful tool for teenagers, particularly those who may typically be more introverted. Snapchat allows teens to communicate with their peers and to be part of groups they may usually avoid and isolate themselves from. The app enables users to talk about sensitive issues in private while also being able to have fun with friends through the use of the growing number of filters and games available.
However, like any other social network, Snapchat has a darker side. Young people sometimes use the platform to cyberbully their peers, safe in the knowledge that anything they say will disappear for good unless saved. Users are given notifications should someone take a screenshot of anything that they’ve sent, further empowering people to use Snapchat for malicious intentions, safe in the knowledge that the evidence won’t be there without them being aware of it. People of all ages often take advantage of the element of anonymity that social media brings them.
How to Keep Teens Safe
Here are some tips for parents that may assist in ensuring that your teenagers are as safe as can be when using Snapchat.
- Talk openly with your teenager. Ask them what they get up to on social media and build a relationship of trust, allowing your child to feel safe in opening up to you about any issues they may be facing.
- Warn your teenager of the potential dangers. Are they really speaking to who they believe they are on Snapchat?
- Establish rules and boundaries. Who are your teenagers allowed to talk to? Are there any restrictions on what they can post?
Overall, technology is continually evolving, and teenagers always seem to be more aware of changes than their parents. The best way of keeping young people safe online is ultimately to ensure that they’re aware of potential dangers and know how to respond to anything bad that may happen. It’s difficult to shield teenagers from harm completely. Hence, the best course of action is to ensure they’re prepared and supported.