Everything You Need to Know About Snapchat

Do your kids use snapchat, but you're still not sure what it is? Tech Talker explains.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #240

Many of you have probably heard of Snapchat. The tool has been around since 2011, though it was originally named "Pictaboo," and was created to send pictures or videos that disappear. I first heard of it when my little cousin was told she couldn’t have a Facebook, so she said “That’s OK. I have Snapchat instead!” It's now reportedly the third most popular social network among millenials.

Snapchat has technically been around since 2011, it didn’t start gaining momentum until 2013. Today I’m just going to give you the basics of how it works and why it’s used. If you're a parent, your kids are likely using Snapchat, and it’s imperative that you understand it and how it works.

How Does Snapchat Work?what is snapchat

Let's say I have Snapchat on my phone. Through the app, I take a picture or video of my cat snoozing on my bed. I then have two options. I can either share that picture with “my story,” which is kind of like a newsfeed where my followers can view it for up to 24 hours (or however long it is set for).

The other option is I can send it to individual people so that I only share the picture of my cat with, for example, my wife and a few of my best friends. If I send them a picture or video individually though, they can only view it once. (Though there are some hacks to replay a video!)

Something that makes Snapchat fun are the filters. When you think filter, you usually think of black and white, sepia, lo-fi, or those other common ones on Instagram. Snapchat filters are a whole other ball game, though. If I take a video of me singing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” through Snapchat, I can add a filter that makes it slow motion, double speed, or rewind (plays the video backward). There are also Geolocation filters that put an image over the picture that will show your town or wherever you are located. Geolocation uses your phone's location in order to determine what filters are available to you. This is fun when traveling, or if there is a sponsored filter somewhere.

By far the most fun filters are the ones that use face detection technology. There are a ton of different filters, but some of the most popular are ones that morph the image of your face into an animal, Cher, cute deer, or even give you a flower crown. Each day the filters change so you never know what will be available. You can also put text on your photos/video if you want to write something.

Now let’s talk about why people love Snapchat. With Facebook, pictures and videos get posted and exist on the internet for an unlimited duration. This is dangerous because old pictures can come back to haunt you in job interviews or other professional settings. Sometimes potential employers or parents can access photos that younger people may not want them to see. This is especially useful for teenagers where there phones can be taken by parents and searched.

With Snapchat’s temporary photos and videos, users don’t have to worry about being tagged in anything or even having their pictures shared with people they don’t want them shared with. The disappearing media allows a freedom on social media that wasn’t there before. Or so people think.


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.