It seems as if fourteen years just flew by in the blink of eye. Journey as parent has been one heck of an adventure, filled with loads of happy memories and not to mention my fair share of teary, frustrating angry bits every now and then.
My little adorable one, now no more little, towering tall over me has suddenly become this young adult who seems to have a mind of his own. Although it brings immense joy to see our kids become independent, it is rather discomforting and scary at times.
I admire their ability to question, rationalise, make decisions on their own and not mention their talent to research online, especially prior to buying anything. I applaud their ability to negotiate and convince us parents to spend crazy amount of money on a mobile phone or their so called quintessential, trendy clothing and accessories without which they may get ostracised by their peers.
I have come to learn that owning a mobile phone is almost a Fundamental Right of every teenager. Phones seem worth it when you can reach out to your child when they are away from home, but the moment they are home and are mindlessly chatting away without a care in the world, brings anger and regret for buying it in the first place. Clearly there is a very strong love hate relationship with this gadget.
It was hard to comprehend the addiction for this device and I decided to have a little chat with my kid. I was curious to know as to what keeps him busy on phone. Which game or app, was that engaging that he finds it hard to put away the device? Out of all the games and apps he used “Snapchat” came out a clear winner.
Apparently Snapchat has many features that can keep these teenagers entertained with all the silly and hilarious pictures that they can take and instantly share with their friends. The best part is that they are awarded with strange emojis, trophies and scores for their overindulgence and loyalty, which keeps them wanting to score higher.
As it is the kids are getting worse with their spellings and writing skills, now all they need to do to communicate is send pictures or emojis, it feels like we are back to expressing in symbols and signs(hieroglyphics) like the ancient Egyptians. I fear that writing complete sentences let alone grammatically right ones, will soon become extinct.
With all the snaps shared at that frequency by so many, it made me wonder about the amount of memory that this app would eat into. Interestingly these images are impermanent and self-destruct in 10 seconds (reminded me of Mission Impossible movie) after receiving or immediately after viewing, unless a screenshot is taken by the user for keepsake. Even the messages get automatically deleted in a one-to-one chat after both parties have viewed it and swiped out of the chat screen.
Hats off to Snapchat, kids can keep their privacy intact around intruding (in the eyes of teenagers) or I must say caring/worried parents, with all information wiped out. It creeps me out to even think what these kids are sharing. All one needs is an email id to start using this app. There is no phone number to be associated with the account, no filling of personal details, further keeping the identity of the user private, some sense of safety I hope.
Furthermore there is something called a “Streak”, a unique feature built into the app which makes it feel like a game. Here all they need to start a streak is to send one Snapchat to each other every day, and to see how long they can keep it going. This calls for persistence, which they seem to have in this particular case unlike the school work.
Kids can tell their entire day’s story in a narrative manner using pictures taken throughout a day (24 hours) with the Snapchat story feature. They can also contribute to a live story something that is currently happening in their city or such thing.
After getting to know more about this app, I got to admit that it is a COOL app, designed well for fun and trend seeking teens and tweens of our times. It is new knowledge for me that big companies like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Acura, GE, NBA are using Snapchat stories to market their products to this demographic, since they happen to be early adopters of technology and trends.
I only wish education could be this engaging for our youngsters, then it would do wonders for them.
-Aruna C. Head – Communications, BRAINSTARS