I have to start off this post by telling you that two things annoyed me about this app right from the get go.
- It made me feel old…like super old. Apparently you have to be 13 years old or older to have a snap chat account. So by default snap chat sets the year to 2008 when you are registering for an account (because nobody my age should be downloading this app). But in my case I felt like a contestant on The Price is Right spinning that giant wheel to try and get closest to a dollar without going over to get into the showcase round.
2. They ask you to take a selfie so they can make an avatar for you that is supposed to look like you. Because of shadows and terrible lighting my avatar came out looking like AJ from the backstreet boys (post fame) when he was experimenting with his facial hair. Here is a whole post dedicated to terrible facial hair on 90’s boy bands.
I am going to add a third point right now because it just came to me after writing the first two points:
3. I have made reference to “The Price is Right” and “The Backstreet Boys” in a post about snap chat which is geared to an audience that won’t even get those two references which is making me feel even older.
So just out of spite for the rest of this blog post I will use Backstreet Boys songs for my subheadings because I Want it that way:
It seems to me that EVERYBODY that I have taught in a grade 7/8 class who has a phone has Snap Chat and at least once a day I tell them to get off Snap chat. So for the purpose of this blog let’s look at it from a different perspective and say why fight it and lets embrace it. Is there potential for this app in the classroom?
Initially after playing around with this app I only see value in the filter feature.
Time to do some research and see how some educators have used this app in their classroom to engage their students because there has to be some educational potential to this app.
The first website I came across was Mud and Ink Teaching Adventurous Teaching Starts Here. Thirty seconds into reading this blog post about 6 ways to integrate Snap into your classroom my creative inquiry based teacher brain kicked into gear and started thinking about my lessons and projects I do with my students and how this app could take some of my ideas to another level.
One example they gave was #booksnap:
Or this idea about raising awareness:
I am already thinking about how I could use this strategy and connect it to Orange Shirt day coming up on September 30th. There are 4 levels to engagement:
- Informational (ie. A tweet or facebook post, a handout)
- Involvement (ie. Literature night, bagels and books)
- Engagement (ie. You and the families come together by asking for their input, “What do you want to know” through Google Forms then maybe share strategies or hints for success through various platforms)
- Leadership (ie. Where parents lead, we give up control)
I am thinking this app/activity could get the students past the first level (informational) and at least get them to level 2 if not level 3.
Ok Snapchat I might have to take back my initial thoughts about you because I am starting to see some value.
Ditch That Textbook is a great website I like to read and follow on twitter @DitchThatTxtbk:
It gave me the idea that you can subscribe to various Snapchat accounts and watch their stories. So I looked up some and found this cool Snapchat story to subscribe to called, “Craft It Yourself” and it had stories all about science experiments you could do at home with relative ease.
Ok so after a bit of research and some self reflection about my sensitivity to my age I can see some positive things with Snapchat. So why is there so much apprehension about this app in regards to teenagers.
After a few conversations with parents and slao a few google searches I can see why so many people are apprehensive about letting their kids download the app.
- Exclusion — You can see everyone of your friends location who have the app. Which basically means you can see when you are not with that group of friends who are all hanging out. This would have destroyed me when I was that age to see all my buddies at one location and then realize I wasn’t part of that group. I can’t imagine what it does to the mental health of teenagers who are already a little insecure and trying to figure out their place in the world.
- Addiction — Streaks! Apparently there is this thing called streaks on your account. It tracks how many days in a row you have snapped with another person. Kids wear this like a badge of honor and it becomes very important for them to keep these streaks going. Heaven forbid if you go on a camping trip with no cell service. Business Insider goes into this aspect in more detail here.
3. Bullying — Back in my day if you were to define bullying it happened during school hours and probably resulted in some words or fists getting hurled your way in public. It was dealt with at the school and then you could retreat to your home and find some sanctuary or safety (because the internet wasn’t a common thing yet). But not in 2021… Kids can get bullied 24/7 in too many ways. Snapchat is just another way to bully another kid. “Although the Snaps disappear without a trace, their messages can leave lasting impacts.” This is a great quote from an article I found from Bayview Therapy. The one feature that made Snapchat stand out when it was first created might be the one thing that makes it so damaging to kids. Kids think that these images or texts that they send disappear after a certain time but they are quickly learning that this isn’t the case. Here is a news story about a lawsuit against Snapchat that forced the company to make some changes to better protect youth against cyberbullying.
Conclusion: No Place
I can honestly say because of this assignment I know no more about snap chat then i did at the start of the week. Are there pros to the app in terms of educational purposes 100% there is. Are there concerns for the mental health and well-being of students with this app 100% there is.
So my final thoughts on this app is that although I can see potential in it for future lessons I can’t in good faith use it in class knowing the potential drawbacks in regards to student safety. Student safety is always my top priority.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my decision about snapchat! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog if you made it this far. I have to go now and delete an app from my phone.