Snapchat has been one of the most intriguing social media apps for over 8 years ago. Since its inception in 2013, Snapchat has gone from a tiny platform to a giant global phenomenon. Many people use this app nowadays to gain a platform in society and to stay in touch with others. Snapchat has surpassed Twitter and Instagram as the number one social media platform. Many people need Snapchat in their lives to perform their duties. Not only is Snapchat letting people connect via short picture messages, but they are also now integrating news feeds so users can stay up to date with current trends. However, there are negative consequences to this social media app as well. One can argue that the good can outweigh the bad in this, but others have noted that the Snapchat app has done more bad than good.
Snapchat is an image and video messaging application created in 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown. The app was created when the trio was studying at Stanford University, with Spiegel presenting its first incarnation as part of a project for his product design class. It was initially launched as an app called Picaboo in July 2011, but it was rebranded as Snapchat just a few months later when the company received a cease-and-desist letter from the photo book company with the same name. This could have been a blessing in disguise for the newly formed company because one can argue that many people do not want to receive messages from something called Picaboo as it has a creepy sense to it. Snapchat is a catchy phrase that one can adhere to one that has stuck. It has gotten so large that in 2014, Snapchat turned down a 3 billion dollar offer from Mark Zuckerberg in January 2014, who is the creator of Facebook. According to a recent data survey, Snapchat has 166 million daily active users as of May of 2017.
Snapchat works in many different ways. Snapchat lets users send images and videos to a different user, which will eventually disappear. This is the whole concept behind the idea of Snapchat. The fact that you can send something to someone and it can be as funny or goofy as you want it to be and they cannot save it. But, they actually can because of the screenshot mode that is programmed on our phones. But there is a consequence to that. If you end up taking a screenshot of the photo that is sent to you then that user gets an automatic message that they screenshot your image. This could often lead to an awkward conversation later on down the road. Snapchat has also been growing year in and year out. Every so often some updates are sent out to its daily users, and with every update comes new and improved emojis or filters. When people take pictures of themselves on Snapchat they often use something called a filter. It usually makes them into a cartoon-like characters or makes them look funny. Whatever the case may be, the daily users are always looking forward to new and improved ways to send messages, images, and videos out to their friends or family members. Not only can you send out those types of images, but Snapchat allows you to create stories for yourself. A story is something you post and you can add to it as time moves on. This allows other users who are scrolling through the Snapchat feed to see your name and often see a video icon next to your name. This signals that you have created a story. People can then message you about that said video and you can keep interacting with them as time goes on.
There is more to Snapchat nowadays, as Snapchat improves on it every single day. Snapchat now involved the news feed in its daily logs. People can now be informed of what is going on in the world simply by logging into Snapchat and not even open a newspaper or even turn on the news. Many people nowadays don’t even buy newspapers or even turn on the tv for their local news. Their local news is the drama that is occurring in other people’s lives. One of the first things that people do is open up their phones and scroll through their social media feeds. This is how they get their local news and Snapchat has fed into that and it is paying off greatly. Snapchat even offers users to tap into celebrities’ lives as they have separate feeds for them to upload their daily lives. What started as this small picture and video sharing app has turned into a global phenomenon.
When the app was first created one can argue that it was intended for children of a young age. You need to be at least 13 years of age to register for a Snapchat account. The fact that you can do so many “childish” things in the app leads me to believe that the creators of the app geared it towards the younger generation. However, the app is about nine years old now and those 13-year-olds are now 22 and they want to do more than send pictures of themselves in a bunny outfit. This is how Snapchat has adapted over the years and geared its app towards a wide range of followers. One can argue that it was never the creators’ intention of it being so big with news feeds and celebrity takeovers. But since this world runs on money, the app is now worth over 4 billion dollars. Something worth that much needs to be maintained and changed almost daily. Some will argue that 13-year-olds should not be using Snapchat because they are not aware of the dangers of social media. This is true in today’s terms, but nine years ago it was safer for a 13 year old to use the app. It was still a social media app, but it wasn’t connected to the world as it is today. In my opinion, this app should be geared towards teenagers who are over the age of 17. Middle school students should not be allowed on this app because they do not have the critical thinking skills fully developed yet.
There has been a rise in the rate of depression associated with social media apps. One of the main culprits of this is the Snapchat app. There is no other factor that has changed notably in the last decade other than the prevalence of smartphones, digital technology, and social media to explain the extraordinary increase in the frequency of depression among adolescents. Right now about twenty-two percent of teenagers exhibit multiple symptoms of depression. The increased depression is highest in those with three or more hours per day of digital technology usage and that data is self-reported, probably not capturing the true rates, which is likely higher. On a side note, I took a poll in all of the classes that I teach. I teach at the middle school level and out of the 135 students I have, 125 of them use some sort of social media app. Most adolescents sleep with their phones, and this constant interaction goes on often past midnight and into their sleeping hours and they might well also be awakened early in the morning by friends who are snap chatting back and forth. This rate will also affect their school time and raise their anxiety levels. For example, I recently had a student in my class get up and leave the class and go straight to the nurse. His heart rate was beating very fast and he thought something was wrong with him. It turns out, after having a parent meeting that he stays up all night on his phone going through the various apps he has on his phone. The main culprit of this was indeed Snapchat. The parents are not monitoring what their children are doing late at night. He was not going to sleep until 3 am and had to be up at 7 am for school. This is clearly not enough sleep for a 7th-grade student. This is clearly a problem and the rise of depression in young children will continue unless there is something dramatic to be done.
Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. The girls often grapple with depression, Snapchat addiction, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Dealing with these issues can get a confusing and overwhelming fast but they’re there to help guide you. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, they treat their clients with age and gender-specific techniques. They strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life. The fact that there are facilities that are dedicated to Snapchat addiction is a sign that there is an epidemic. Snapchat addiction is on the rise and it is noticeably high in young women. They often associate Snapchat addiction with high anxiety and depression.
In a study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement (YHM), researchers found that Instagram and Snapchat are the worst for mental health in teens. The data came from 1,500 youth, ages 14-24, to understand social media’s impact on the age group that uses it the most. The researchers believe this is because the two platforms are largely based on image rather than anything else. It all focuses on followers and shallow status factors. Having your self-esteem based on something so volatile and superficial can lead to serious mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, extreme feelings of loneliness, and more. If someone were considered “not good looking” and they sent out a snap to someone they are often exposed to cyberbullying or other threats made at them.
To understand why Snapchat addiction should be taken seriously, you have to understand why technology addictions are very real. Addictions aren’t just reserved for substances–really you can become addicted to most things that light up the reward system in the brain. Take gambling addictions for example; people become addicted to the feeling, the rush, of winning money. With technology, it’s similar. For video game addictions, it’s usually being used as a sort of escape from reality. For a Snapchat addiction, it’s more about views and “snap streaks.” I cannot tell you how many times my little cousins or my students have bragged about the snap streak. A snap streak is when you send a Snapchat message or image to them at least once a day. They are heartbroken if the other does not return the favor because then the streak would be broken. Snap streaks are the way to measure “success” on Snapchat. On Instagram it’s about likes, on Snapchat it’s about the streak. A snap streak is when you’ve been sending snaps directly to a person for a prolonged amount of time. To get the streak, you have to do it each day, though so if you miss a day, you lose the streak. For some teens, it’s a measure of how much you care about someone or how much they care for you. If you’re good friends, they’re more motivated to keep the streak going; if you’re not, they’ll let it die without mourning. It can get so obsessive that the streaks continue for over a year–and if you lose one, it can be devastating, it can even ruin a friendship. So, it’s easy to see how this obsession grows into something problematic. It can begin as something harmless, but if behavior increasingly becomes erratic and obsessive based around Snapchat, there may be a real issue. When a teen begins to place their self-worth on the number of likes, followers, or snaps they receive, it is set up for disaster.
Selena Gomez was recently in the news and was calling out Snapchat for its use of filters on people. Selena then shared a video of her using a Snapchat filter that drastically distorts your face saying: ‘They should have more filters like this. Oh great and it’s the only one that uses my brown eyes.’ She then joked: ‘I don’t understand. They have all the blue eyes for all the ones that are like really pretty and then I put on this and it’s like brown…brown eyes.” This is someone who uses social media on the regular and most celebrities need to because they see it as their platform and they can get their messages across. Selena ended her post saying: ‘I think I’ll just stick to the gram. Brown eyes are beautiful everyone.’ Obviously, the tone of Selena’s video is funny but she brings up some really important points. Blue eyes are often hailed as more beautiful than other eyes in many cultures and they shouldn’t be. All eyes are beautiful and Snapchat should recognize that. It is an interesting account of what Gomez is saying. There is no research done that Snapchat is discriminating against certain people’s eyes. But she did also say that she will stick with the “gram”, this is referring to that she will be ditching Snapchat for while and keep using Instagram on the regular. Celebrities have been known to endorse such social media apps and one can argue that this is part of the problem. The younger generation sees these celebrities using them so they want to use them. They see the older celebrities as role models and if they do it then they have to do it as well.
Snapchat can also get a lot of people in trouble and they have to watch what they post. More often than not people think just because they use Snapchat they can get away with stuff because the message disappears. This is simply not the case because yes, the message or image will disappear, however, it is saved on Snapchat’s servers forever. Nothing ever disappears in the social media world. In Detroit, someone was recently fired over a racist Snapchat that they sent out because he was African American. In the video, a woman identified as Ariel Moore is seen walking home after her car was impounded for expired tags. The video goes on to make several derogatory and racist jokes, but there are two voices in the video. One of the voices was identified as Steele, who has since been fired, but the second officer has been identified as Michael Garrison. The officer was on paid leave since the incident. After the Detroit Police launched an investigation, police chief James Craig said 55 people were interviewed and 11 allegations were made against Garrison. Garrison was accused of making racially insensitive comments and providing false statements during an internal affairs investigation. Social media seems to get a good amount of people in trouble because they do not know how the platform operates.
Snapchat has been associated with some bad press, especially in schools. Snapchat is the number one social media app for cyberbullying. More often than not students send information on Snapchat thinking that it is safe, but once someone receives it they can save it by taking a screenshot. This can then escalate into a fight or verbal fight between the two parties. This is where the school has to step in and enforce its rules. This must have been just a coincidence but just a little over a week ago my school district arrested a student for posting “terror” threats via Snapchat. He said he was going to shoot up the school and then posted that date and time and then posted a gun. This happened on a Sunday and he was arrested that night. There was extra security in place the next day, and we received a robocall from the superintendent that very night to ensure our safety. This is a 16-year kid not knowing the dangers of social media. They argue that they are just joking, but one cannot see the verbal or behavioral expressions when one sends out a message or Snapchat. Children need to be given educational tools and learning to use this app because they are too reckless on it.
Snapchat also has done some good lately in the news. There was a story going around about a “Snapchat hero”. A girl was on suicide watch and through Snapchat, the young man was able to find out what was wrong because they were penpals. Instead of doing nothing, he ended up calling the police and the police went straight to her home. This is a good platform to have to save someone’s life because before the use of social media, there would be no way that this young man would ever be able to save this young girl’s life. He lived in Pittsburgh and she lived in Texas. The boy has lauded a hero because he took action instead of staying quiet. He saw a different type of post from the girl and made sure she was alright. This type of heroic action can get unnoticed because the media likes to use negative stories as they get the most juice. However, this is something that the girl’s family will never forget as he saved her life.
Overall my impression of Snapchat is indifferent. I used to have a Snapchat account, but I found it annoying and I was not an attention-seeking person. I value my privacy as an individual and I feel this will expose privacy for certain individuals. A lot of my students use Snapchat and my little cousins use Snapchat as a means of communication. It’s interesting because sometimes they will be having a conversation via text message, but then having an entirely different conversation via Snapchat. This goes on at the same time, and it is very weird. I feel children need to value their time better and spend more time outside playing or with their family. I remember when I was young I would come home do my homework and then go outside and play sports with all the other neighborhood kids. It was a great time in the late ’90s and 2000’s. I remember going up to my friends’ door and knocking asking them to come outside because we all didn’t have cell phones. I am not trying to dwell on the past, however, times have changed dramatically. Kids these days have cell phones and access to technology that I never had as a kid. In my opinion, they are exposed too much to the media and they are not yet fully developed. What I mean by that is the fact that they see something on the television or the Snapchat feed and they take it as their own. They are not processing the words correctly and often are getting a different message and it is not their own thought.
Snapchat should be geared towards teenagers who are 17 years or older. I feel this is necessary because their minds are more developed than a 13-year-old. Snapchat has its pros and it has its cons. The negatives of it have been listed before, but the positives are probably a little less. For example, Snapchat has a built-in news feed that allows users to access daily news. This is something that the younger generation can be exposed to as they wouldn’t have been exposed to in the past. This can be seen as a good thing and a bad thing, but the thing is to show interest. Snapchat can also save lives as it was shown with that girl who was on suicide watch. The young man intervened and stepped into action. His actions were not unseen and will forever be in that family’s debt for his heroic actions.
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