Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Snapchat and Facebook: Why the App and Website are So Popular Among High School and College Students

Snapchat and Facebook: Why the App and Website are So Popular Among High School and College Students

The following post is from the perspective of young people themselves....enjoy!

            Since its popularity surge with teenagers in the 2000s, Facebook has steadily been a popular website for social use among high school and college students. Nowadays, with the rise of smart phones and the abundance of apps to download, Snapchat seems to have made its way to one of the most used and most popular smart phone apps among teenagers and young adults. Together, Facebook and Snapchat dominate the way young adults socialize and behave among each other.
            Child Therapy Chicago conducted an informal survey of the websites and apps high school and college students prefer to use in their free time. Students from a local Chicago high school as well as students from a Chicago university were surveyed. These students were asked a variety of questions ranging from what their favorite website and app is to explaining why they prefer these social media platforms.  


            First created in 2011, Snapchat is an app where users can send and share photos and videos to a list of friends. Photos or videos — called “snaps” — are sent directly to a friend on a user’s friend list. The user who sends the snap can choose how long their friends can view the snap, ranging from 1 to 10 seconds. After the snaps are opened, they are deleted by Snapchat and cannot be viewed again (however, there are some exceptions to this mentioned later).
Among the variety of apps students wrote as their preferred app, Snapchat was the popular answer. The app was more favored among the surveyed high school students than the college students. Of the 29 high school students surveyed, 14 wrote Snapchat as their favorite app to use in their free time. Of the 14 college students surveyed, no one wrote Snapchat as their favorite.
Why is Snapchat popular among young students? The answer might lie with Snapchat’s “impermanence” feature, where those snaps sent to them by a friend “self-destruct” and cannot be viewed again. All users must create a username and have the ability to link their real name to their profile. However, even with those features, students sometimes have the false belief that nothing is permanent and all photos and videos sent through Snapchat will disappear forever. Users may experience a sense of “deindividuation,” a psychological term meaning: the tendency of people to engage in atypical behavior when stripped of their usual identities. Users might feel inclined to take pictures of parties they are attending, what they’re eating & drinking, who they are spending time with or — as some of my own friends have done in the past — take pictures or videos of alcohol consumption because they don't think the "evidence" will last.
            Recently, Huffington Post wrote an article about the apps parents of teens should watch out for. Snapchat was on their list of  the top 12 apps. “Users think their snaps will disappear and they are wrong. It's actually pretty easy to recover a Snap, take a screenshot of it and share it with others,” Ann Brenoff, the writer of the article, said.
            This is not to say that Snapchat is evil and all parents should snatch their teens' phones away if they see the app on their home page. Snapchat may be this generation’s new way of convenient communication. In the informal survey we conducted, students were asked why they prefer their favorite app. One high school student’s response speaks for many across the survey and possibly the nation: “Snapchat = texting.” It’s simple: a 10-second snap with a word limit can be all you need to keep a nice conversation going. Let’s not forget that Snapchat also has enabled direct messaging between friends with no word limit.
            There are other reasons why Snapchat is a favorite among the high school students surveyed and that includes: “It keeps me updated on [what] my friends are interested in and what they’re up to;” "The app also features different mini articles that are entertaining;” “It keeps me updated socially as well as informs me on what my friends are doing.”
            So, while Snapchat has it concerning issues, it might be the next generations' Facebook.

            Facebook has been around since 2004, and it is the easiest way to connect with friends and family around the world. Users can share photos, statuses, videos, direct message friends and much more. As one of the college students put it: “[Facebook] helps me connect with people and see what they are up to when I can't text or call them.”
            However, another college student uses Facebook differently. “As bad as it sounds, I learn some things from Facebook, mainly from articles. I really only use Facebook for the articles and to connect with certain people.” She included in the survey that she uses Facebook for “Personal, Political and Social reasons.”
            Back during my middle school years, things were different. Facebook was extremely popular among middle school and high school students. Back then, I remember seeing countless statuses where a friend was simply telling their followers what they’re doing. Nowadays, there is rarely a status seen on my “News Feed,” or homepage. Everything evolves, and so Facebook evolved as well. Things are more political and visual now. There are more videos circulating, most of which are short, funny and entertaining-to-watch.
            So why is Facebook still popular among the older students who were surveyed versus the younger? It may be quite simple: we grew up with Facebook, so we’ll stay with Facebook. That’s not to say college students aren’t using Snapchat or other apps and websites. But Facebook was part of our teen years where we interacted among our friends from school. This is most likely the reason Facebook created the “Timeline” feature where someone can look back through their Facebook profile through the past years since they’ve been a member (I cannot tell you how many times my old friends from middle school look through Timeline and comment on old photos and statuses).
            The takeaway is this: time goes by and nothing really remains the same. Facebook and its users evolved. Newer and better things are released. According to the survey, it seems that each generation prefers the app or website they grew up with. A majority of the college students have stuck with Facebook and the high school students prefer the newer and emerging apps like Snapchat. What's next??

Post by: Raul EspaƱa, College Psychology Student Intern