SOCIAL MEDIA BOOT CAMP: A Parent’s Guide to SnapChat

Social media has transformed the way we communicate. Rather than pushing away from this change, it’s important for parents to understand the online environment their kids are growing up in.

As the owner of content marketing company Web of Words, I live and work in the ever-evolving world of social media every single day. And I’m pleased to introduce Look Local’s Social Media Boot Camp – the latest addition to our social media series for parents. This month, we’re exploring all things Snapchat.

Have you ever wondered what’s so fascinating about taking a selfie with superimposed cat ears? What’s the difference between a filter and a lens, anyway? And how do you know if you should send a “snap” or a “story”? Read on to discover the answers to all of your burning questions.


The Gist Of It
Snapchat isn’t your typical social network. It’s a mobile app initially designed for the purpose of taking and sending photos and videos to friends that are only available for a short time before they become inaccessible. In other words, this platform offers a refreshing escape from the “like economy” we’re accustomed to on channels like Facebook and Instagram.

You can also use the app for a range of other tasks, including sending short videos, live video chatting, messaging, creating caricature-like Bitmoji avatars, and sharing photos and videos via a chronological “story” that’s published for all of your followers to see. There’s even a separate “Discovery” area designed to showcase quick content from major publishers like Buzzfeed and Dailymail.


Disappearing Snaps
Snaps aren’t supposed to last forever. But what really happens to the disappearing photos and videos your child sends to their friends online? While it’s true that Snapchat does not save received messages, the latest updates to the app allow you to replay snaps received from friends, screenshot photos you want to save, and save your own snaps to the “Memories” section within your Snapchat account, or to your device’s camera roll.



Snap Versus Story
While a snap is a photo or video you send directly to a friend or follower, a story is an ongoing feed where you can add photos and videos for all of your followers to view. Unopened snaps are stored until viewed or for up to 30 days if not opened, but any snaps added to your story are deleted from Snapchat’s servers after 24 hours.


Snapchat Chat
Snapchat also boasts a private chat feature that works similarly to an instant messenger platform. You can swipe left during your friend’s story to instantly jump into a chat with them, where you can send interactive
stickers, or even make audio and video calls. Snapchat aims to be “the best way to communicate – second only to hanging out face-to-face,” and the platform is constantly being updated in efforts to allow us to connect as closely as possible to the way we interact in real life.


Lens Versus Filter
When you take a photo or video, you can add a filter to jazz up your snap. These come in the form of a static overlay or special effect, and they change based on holidays, location or time of day. Geofilters in particular are unique to your current location, giving followers a glimpse at where you are in real time. They can be turned on and off in your location settings on Snapchat.

A lens, on the other hand, is a form of animated special effect you can add to your snaps. Unlike filters, which are added afterwards, you use the lens while you are taking a snap. Selfie lenses in particular can transform you into a wide-range of animated characters, adjusting the sound of your voice in a video snap. The latest world lenses now allow you to add lenses to your environment rather than just your selfie (like making it snow in the kitchen).


Adding Friends
Snapchat can scan your smartphone contacts for friends who have made themselves searchable on Snapchat. You can also add friends by taking a picture of their snapcode, a unique QR-style code you can scan to add friends or access features and special content on the app.

A survey recently published in Variety found that almost a third of 13- to 24-year-old Snapchatters said they used the platform specifically because their parents did not. If you really want your child to be more considerate about their online behaviours, perhaps it’s time you learn how to navigate the Snapchat world for yourself.


Local Link

Web of Words, Newmarket

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