If your teenager is frequently making bizarre faces into her cell phone, she is probably into one of today’s most popular mobile apps, Snapchat.
Snapchat, developed by a small group of Stanford students, is an app that allows you to take photos and videos and send them to your friends, who can only view them for a limited time – between 1 and 10 seconds (you choose). If you designate the viewing time as 5 seconds, your friend will only have 5 seconds to see your photo or video and read the message you sent with it. At the end of that 5 seconds, the picture or video permanently deletes.
Why has Snapchat become so popular? Snapchat offers something different than mere photo sharing. It eliminates the inconvenience of sending and receiving photos – and trust me, your teenager doesn’t want to be inconvenienced when sending and receiving photos.
But the real attraction is the prospect of impermanency; the idea that one can send something that will be erased and never recovered. It makes life feel surprising, it makes moments feel fleeting. What does it say about me or my generation? Maybe it says something about our attention span. Maybe it lets us be ridiculous and ugly and mistaken and childish for just a second, or five, without the fear of lifelong consequences. The internet is permanent, Snapchat is forgiving.
And it’s also just a lot of fun.
Make it snappy
Interested in Snapchatting with your teenager but don’t know where to start? Follow these easy steps to successfully launch your Snapchatting career:
1) Download the app and add your teenager to your Snapchat contacts (he or she will have to give you his or her username).
2) Take a silly picture of yourself.
3) Write a short accompanying message that’s an inside joke. If you don’t have inside jokes with your teenager, all is not lost. Instead, write a message that is either very serious or totally unrelated to the photo.
4) Snapchat it and eagerly anticipate your teenager’s Snapchat response – you probably won’t be disappointed.