So, I have been feeling left out of the Snapchat game. Some of my colleagues, well actually a lot of them, use Snapchat and use Snapchat with each other. Then, I have noticed that people that I follow on Twitter that are teachers and librarians as well as authors and illustrators have been talking about Snapchat and who’s got game with it. I don’t get it. Plus, my 15 year-old son uses it all the time. Oh, yeah, and my sister. So, what is it about this app that I am not getting? Is it really that great?
First off, my friends and my sister who uses it will send me a screenshot of their Snapchat images because they know I don’t have it. I didn’t get that that was what it was at first and I slowly made the connections noticing some of the similarities of the strange faces and additions to their photos. I can’t type text in a photo I take, so how are they doing it? Snapchat. Then, I started receiving face swaps that my sister would take of herself and my mother or herself and my father. They were funny but what app was she using to do this? Snapchat. Gosh darn that Snapchat. So, I downloaded it. Then I had to ask my son to help me figure it out.
When I first downloaded it, it listed all of the people in my contacts that currently used Snapchat and I could pick which of these people I actually wanted to Snapchat with. There weren’t that many that I felt comfortable doing this with so I picked my son, my two closer friends at school and my sister. Of course, my son wanted nothing to do with being my friend on there (but that is for another day) but he was willing to show me how to use it. I made a couple funny faces and typed some text and sent them to who they were intended for. Once they are viewed, you can see they are viewed and then they can be viewed only one more time and then they disappear. This feature is cool as it doesn’t take up space but if it is something that they really wanted to have access to, it is gone. It is also gone from the creator’s account unless the creator is quick enough to download it to his/her device. In general, this app makes me wonder what things are being sent in the teen age group but that is the worry-wart parent in me. I want to think that I should focus on the power of an app that most kids who have a device are using and using it in a way to promote reading. How can this happen though?
Around this time, I picked up the June issue of School Library Journal that I had neglected and one of the first articles I read was called Snapchat Readers’ Advisory by Alanna Graves (serendipitous learning). This teen public librarian has a snapchat and she does book talks using it. I thought, ok, now this is more like it! Using Snapchat with a real purpose. Meeting kids where they are by using an app, that is free and that most kids with phones have. I could see this as a possibility in the future once I become more comfortable with using it. I will need to create a Snapchat name (separate from my personal one) that would be for the library that I work in and obviously it would probably only be viewed by the older students (maybe 4th and 5th graders) in my school. However, I think long-term and I think that when those students go into middle and high school, and if this app has longevity, they would still wait for and watch a book talk by Ms. Palmer, their elementary librarian who always gave great book talks! My former students that are in middle and high school may also be interested in this as whenever we see each other, we always talk about the books we read or are reading. They could do book talks back to me and recommend what books I should read. How cool would that be?! I believe that we, as educators, need to be meeting kids where they are and use what they are engaged in. It is important to model acceptable use and uses that promote reading and thinking and wondering. I know that seems like wishful thinking but I like to think big about things and see the positive potential and the possibilities of using an app in a purposeful way. So, Snapchat could work out for me after all.