Originally named Picaboo, Snapchat was released in July 2011 and has quickly grown to be the ruling form of communication among teenagers. Evolving into much more than just a social media platform, Snapchat has made it possible to communicate with friends, meet new people and even catch up on the news.
From its time of release to the present there have been several updates, which have made Snapchat the widely-used app it is today. In 2013 the Stories feature was added, which allows users to post Snapchats that can be seen by all of their friends rather than just one person. The popularity of this feature led to its replication on other apps, such as Instagram. Another transformational update was the addition of the Discover page in 2015, which provides a daily news feed from publications such as Cosmopolitan, ESPN and Daily Mail. The Snap Map feature is the most recent notable update, implemented in June of 2017, and allows users the choice to share their location with their friends whenever the app is open. Snapchat has come a long way from the days when it was believed to serve the sole purpose of sending private pictures.
Like with any social media platform, Snapchat has its own understood etiquette that many teens intuitively know and follow. Important features of the app allow users to infer a great deal of information about the people they are communicating with, such as being able to see when someone opened your snap or the last time someone was on Snapchat, For instance, if a snap is ODR’ed (Open and Don’t Respond), it can leave the sender asking themselves, “is the recipient angry, indifferent or simply busy and forgot to send a Snapchat back?” Usually, when two people are close friends, it is common to respond to each other’s snaps consistently and in a timely fashion.
Another important feature to understand is a Snapchat streak. A streak is a count of how many days in a row two people have snapped back and forth. As with ODR’ing, streaks serve as important communication cues in certain situations but can be completely irrelevant in others. Similar to other forms of communication, it is helpful to keep in mind that the meaning behind unspoken mannerisms will vary based on the relationship and history between users.
Snapchat is a one-stop shop for most teenage communication needs, so it’s no mystery as to why it has become so popular. It is a safe haven from parents’ prying eyes, and entertaining in more than one way. When Snapchat, like Facebook before it, inevitably becomes the social media platform for ‘older people’, there is no doubt a new app or platform will arise targeting the younger generations to come.