Snapchat may be on a streak of loss of users
Is Snapchat going the way of MySpace? Last quarter, Snapchat reported its first decline in daily active users, down from 191 to 188 million. Its stock lost nearly half of its peak value, hovering near its all time low.
Overall, social media use remains strong. According to Pew Research, 78% of 18-24 year olds have used Snapchat, 80% use Facebook, and 94% use YouTube. However, at their peak, social media sites such as MySpace, Friendster, or Classmates.com captured large audiences and now scarcely exist.
In a fast-paced world, social media sites need to evolve even faster. They need to innovate or be forgotten.The current generation of teenagers is the first to grow up with with social media, but also one wrestling with both its positive and negative effects.
Social media users – in the the Minnehaha community but also the world at large – are considering decreasing their use. With apps like Facebook commonly forecasted “to die by the year 2020” across the internet, it’s no surprise that many teens feel the former buzz about these sites lose some of their appeal.
“To be honest, I don’t really use Snapchat that much,” said Cece Schurke, senior. “I think all my friends and I have cut back on how much we use it just because when we’re hanging out we try not to be on it. But sometimes, it’s inevitable and it just always happens. Honestly, I’ve started to view it as negative in some ways – that you’re constantly addicted and wanting to be on it and be on your phone and wanting to check your Snapchat. It can be harmful because you see what everyone else is doing which can affect your mental state too.”
With quick, easy communication, it’s no wonder so many teens have flocked to this sort of messaging. And while the connections and relationships Snapchat fosters values it as a networking app, many teens are feeling Snapchat has infiltrated too many aspects of their lives.
A common concern is the dependence on constant validation, with many voicing concerns about the addictive qualities of social media.
“I like how I can see how people are feeling, see what they’re doing and who they’re with,” said Izzy Peterson, junior. “But this is also the reason why I hate it. I want to live my own life and I feel pressured to share my life with everyone else. It’s like if I didn’t snap it, it didn’t happen.”
Snapchat has also wreaked notable havoc on mental health. Snapchat dysmorphia–the desire to alter physical features in order to look like a real-life Snapchat filter, and has often been associated with plastic surgeries and suicide. It is an new offshoot of body dysmorphic disorder, which, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, affects one in 50 people. Snapchat dysmorphia is a drastic example of this, however, on a smaller scale, Snapchat affects users in much more subtle ways.
“I think number one, it is a time waster,” said Jason Wenschlag, principal. “Social media does rob people of time and I think it limits their flourishing as human beings. Two, I think it creates unrealistic expectations on people, because they compare themselves to others. I think social media represents a world that’s not real in most cases, everyone’s always smiling and showing all the good stuff, but there’s a lot of pain out there and frustration and fakeness that gets put on social media.”
Students at Minnehaha say they grapple with guilt associated with wasted time spent on Snapchat and social media, which aligns with national data by the Pew Research Center revealing 59 percent of social media users would not find it hard to give up social media use.
“Spending time on Snapchat makes me sad,” said Peterson. “That time I could’ve been doing so many other things, but no, I was watching somebody do something that doesn’t affect my life in any way.”
For all of its flaws, Snapchat and social media are not inherently problematic, they can provide positive benefits as well.
“Social media isn’t going anywhere–it is here to stay,” said Kristin Overton, counselor. Â “As long as social media is used for positive reasons, I say use it! That said, give yourself permission to take breaks – even if just for a day. Know that all you love about social media will be right there when you come back to it. And remember, nothing can replace the value of connecting with people. No screens necessary.”
And it is not just teens who have cooled towards social media and phone use. This year, the school is implementing a new phone policy: “during the day [cell phones] are only allowed at the discretion of individual teachers…otherwise they will not be allowed to be out in school during the day.”
“I hope, that number one, it sends a strong message to kids that we care about their learning.” Wenschlag said, “Number two, I hope that it increases their concentration in school…Ultimately, I hope kids feel more healthy, more focused, less anxious, and I hope they experience more social connections here.”
For better or for worse, Snapchat both plagues and connects the modern teen with their peers, at least for now. But with Snapchat use at record lows and the surfacing of negative views and its drawbacks it may seem the app’s days are numbered. It is possible that Snapchat could join the graveyard of former social media giants.