By Monica Arkin
I was slow to hop on the Snapchat bandwagon. I didn’t see the point when I already had accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But, eventually, I decided to try it, and now I’d say that Snapchat is often more enjoyable and convenient than other platforms.
In case you are unfamiliar with Snapchat, here’s a quick overview. Snapchat is a way to share pictures and videos, called “snaps.” You can control how long a friend can see your snaps—up to 10 seconds. And friends can only open your snaps once. There is a public aspect to Snapchat, too, called “snap stories.” If you post a snap to your “story,” all your friends can view the post as many times as they like for 24 hours.
Here’s what I like about Snapchat:
It’s manageable. Because snaps can only be viewed once and stories refresh every 24 hours, my snap feed is easy to check out quickly. Whereas checking Twitter or Instagram can easily turn into 30 minutes of stalking someone’s posts from 2013.
There are no “likes” or comments. That means Snapchat is less about seeking approval —trying to get as many likes as you can on Instagram, for example—and more about sharing moments with friends. A lot of teens find it a relief not to have to worry about “likes” on Snapchat.
No one sees how many “friends” you have. That’s also a relief for teens and, for me at least, it also means that Snapchat users are less inclined to accept requests from strangers. Because why would you when “friend” numbers don’t matter?
It doesn’t hog your memory. You get to both send and receive your snaps, without ever saving anything to your phone.
It’s fun. You can edit your snaps in so many ways, adding captions, emojis (who doesn’t love emojis?) funny effects, filters, and lots more.
Precautions for Teenagers Using Snapchat
Still, I recommend a few precautions:
Don’t sending anything you’ll regret. It’s true that snaps do not linger on the Internet like Facebook or Instagram posts—we’ve all heard horror stories about a college admissions officer or employer tracking down old pictures—but it’s easy to take a screenshot of a snap, so I never send or post anything I may regret. If someone does take a screenshot of your snap, you will be notified.
Set profiles to private. I also set my profile to private, and to be extra safe, I’m pretty picky about whom I accept as a friend.