Snapchat in the media center? Isn’t it just another photo messaging app that has filters and picture enhancements? After all, Snapchat pictures disappear after ten seconds. At least with Instagram, the images are saved for long term viewing. So why should media specialists even consider it as a way to reach their students?
Spontaneity. Simple glimpses into the daily life of users. This is what has helped Snapchat become one of the fastest growing photo messaging apps since its release in 2011. “Snaps” come off as unprepared and candid which can make the images even more engaging knowing that they are simply a snapshot of a moment in someone’s life. What is daily life like in your media center? Document it with Snapchat. Images of a student nestled up with a good book in the stacks, a group of students engaged in research, or ideas at work in a makerspace. All of these images are opportunities for media specialists to showcase their media center in a format that teens have quickly adopted. Snapchat also offers a Story feature now that allows multiple images to be displayed for up to 24 hours. Media specialists can highlight a whole day’s activities during a special event, such as Teen Tech Week.
One of the biggest appeals to using Snapchat as a way to reach students is the group safety features that the app has in place. When an image is sent to multiple users, the message still appears as an individual message to each user. There is no record of every user that the image was sent to. A media specialist can send a “snap” to multiple users, but the users will not have access to the other users’ information.
Of course, every picture messaging app has its drawbacks. Teens were quick to jump on the bandwagon of this social media tool, and Snapchat quickly earned a bad reputation as a “sexting” app since users assumed risque pictures “vanished” after ten seconds. Users learned that images can be screenshot and saved for long past the mere seconds that Snapchat offers. In response to concerns, Snapchat recently created the Snapchat Safety Center and released a safety guide on Feb. 23, 2015 titled “A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat”. Media specialists could also use the Safety Center information and the guide as part of their digital citizenship and technology safety program with students.
Media specialists are always looking for new ways to reach their students. Snapchat is used by 42% of teenage mobile users, according to Statista.com. If the students are using it, then media specialists should at least give Snapchat a chance. It is easy to add users, just “snap” the ghost icon on a user’s Profile screen. So set up an account today and start sending “snaps” to give your students a glimpse into the daily life of your media center.