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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What’s All the Fuss about Snapchat?

Snapchat Explained

The popular social media site for teens and preteens lets you have fun with your selfies or other portraits.

When your children stopped replying to your emails, you realized you had to learn how to text. Now your grandkids are passing around their phones during family dinners, laughing and giggling. When you ask them what’s so funny, they show you photos of themselves with a red nose and whiskers. They tell you they’re using something called Snapchat. So now do you have to learn another piece of technology so you can communicate with your grandkids and be as cool as possible at your age?

Snapchat is a social media site that teens and preteens love. One of the reasons for its popularity is that the snapshot, called a “Snap” in Snapchat parlance, disappears 10 seconds after the intended viewer receives it. That means that any possibly risqué photos sent, from girl to boy, for example, won’t be around for nosy parents to see and find reasons to ground their daughter.

Think of Snapchat as a playful selfie that you can alter by using Snapchat’s drawing and filter functions or its “lenses” to add masks and other fun effects. You can take photos of friends or pets, too, but the emphasis is on the face and all the creative things you can do with it. You can also take and post a video to send to a specific friend. Or you can use the “Stories” section to post photos and videos that you want to share with all your friends. Postings on this more permanent site will last 24 hours.

Here are some of the effects you can use:

Filters. Over your photo, layer a colored filter or one that relates to the current holiday or the weather. You can also add a Geofilter, which reflects your current location’s information, such as the air temperature.

Snap lenses. One of the more popular features of Snapchat is the set of animated lenses you can choose to alter your face (or someone else’s). While taking a photo, you can choose from different lenses. For example, your face can appear wearing a cat’s whiskers and ears, a garland of flowers might appear on your head, or leaves will start falling all around you. You might be instructed to open your mouth so your face better matches the lens you’ve chosen.

Draw. With the pencil icon, you can choose a colored marker to draw with—maybe tint your hair a different color or add a moustache. Why not throw some stars in the sky or add some flying birds?

Stickers. Choose from nearly 300 cartoon stickers to indicate your mood—everything from a heart to a peace sign to a gloomy face. Or you can create your own “bitmoji” sticker.

Text. Although Snapchat is geared to photos, you can use short phrases like “see you later” or “having fun.”

If you think you want to try Snapchat, go to the Snapchat website and install the app on your device, such as a smartphone. Next, provide your birthday by scrolling through the date, month and year until you find yours. Next, pick a name—not your real one (that’s so uncool), but one that is fun. Be aware that Snapchat doesn’t allow you to change your name once you’ve chosen one. Last, provide a password and your email address. Now you’re ready to join your grandkids in selfie fun.


How to Use Snapchat: A Guide for Beginners,” July 25, 2016, Hootsuite.

Snapchat 101: what it is and how to use it,” Verizon Wireless.

How to Use Snapchat,” April 6, 2016, Wired.

Getting Started,” Snapchat.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors