If you have been under a tunnel for the past five years and still don’t know the app, Snapchat is an instant messaging, and multimedia mobile app that allows users to interact using temporary images, videos or private messages, otherwise known as “snaps”. It also enables its users to compile snaps into a chronological storyline that all of their friends can view. The app refers to these creations as “Snap Stories”.
You can spot the Snapchat app on your child’s phone by its signature white ghost logo on a yellow background, which is an adequate representation of the disappearing messages and posts.
Because it is one of the world’s most popular smartphone apps among teens, it often leaves its unsuspecting users with some serious FOMO.
On Snapchat, each user’s Story lasts only 24 hours, making it challenging to keep up unless one is continuously monitoring. No wonder 158 million people use Snapchat each day, opening the app around 18 times.
How exactly does Snapchat cause FOMO?
1. Disappearing Posts:
Snapchat’s signature feature is its disappearing posts. Except for users manually deleting posts, any images or videos added to a person’s story only lasts for 24 hours at a time.
The app automatically deletes Images and videos sent to private chat after 10 seconds (or 20 seconds if replayed by the recipient). After which it ‘self-destructs’.
What this means is that one has to keep their eyes peeled for celebrity updates. Because if celebs post something scandalous, and delete it after an hour, one has entirely missed the scoop that everyone else would be talking about.
Snapchat’s “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” mentality is, by far, the leading cause of FOMO in the youth today.
2. Snap Streaks
For those who are unfamiliar, a snap-streak occurs when people snap – not message, snap – each other, at least once a day, for 3 consecutive days. It is represented by a fire emoji, next to the user’s name, along with a number that indicates the number of days of the streak.
The emoji reward for a consistent snap-streak makes teens go crazy. They would rather lose a limb than risk their breaking their streak. How can this possibly be harmful to them? *Sarcasm intended*
Oh and just in case you were wondering, the addiction and FOMO that Snap Streaks bring about were intentionally created. Snapchat actually invented this feature to ensure that all its young users stayed on the app longer and came back on more often. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is.
The truth is that your teen probably wouldn’t keep in touch with their ‘friends’ on the app if not for the ‘Snap Streak’ feature. So we have to continuously remind them that the world won’t end if they don’t snap friends pointless images and videos all the time.
3. Snapchat Stories
‘Snapchat Stories’ is one of the oldest features of Snapchat. It is a collection of pictures and videos in chronological order. The FOMO here is so much more intense than in private chats or other social media, especially if a group of friends are out altogether.
The ‘stories’ allow the user, your teen, to see what they’re missing out on from several different views making the FOMO grow with each new story view.
The worst part is that stories last up to 24 hours and can be viewed numerous times at the discretion of the watcher. That makes it incredibly easy for teens to obsessively live out their anxieties by watching their friends’ stories multiple times.
4. Snapchat Pioneered Geo-Tags
Geo-tags are creative and fun. They add a bit of funk to pictures and serve the user as a sort of memoir or souvenir of the places they have been. It’s no wonder teens love it. This function is, however, can be a disadvantage as it adds to the intensity of FOMO.
There’s nothing as depressing as your teen seeing all their friend’s summer vacay pics in Dubai, Paris, the Bahamas or Cancun while your family wasn’t able to afford a trip this year. The innate desire in humans to conform will drive teens crazy comparing themselves to others and feeling like their life is incomplete. Gee thanks Snapchat for rubbing their friends’ wealth in my teen’s face.
Are you ‘shook’ reading this? Well, this is just one app. There are a lot more apps your teen is using, all fighting for his/her attention. So, if you are going to be able to help your teen overcome FOMO, you have to stay informed.