Snapchat is used for many interpersonal relationships; whether that is family, friends or romantic partners. This trend is especially prevalent with young adults, particularly in college. According to the article entitled, “‘Snapchat is more personal’: An exploratory study on Snapchat behaviors and young adult interpersonal relationships”, researchers found that, “Young adults indicated that Snapchat served as a double-edged sword—a communication modality that could lead to relational challenges, but also facilitate more congruent communication within young adult interpersonal relationships.” Snapchat can help a relationship, just as well it can deteriorate one. Snapchat is typically not used for acquaintances, instead young adults have stated that Snapchat is usually for their closest interpersonal relationships. However, sometimes Snapchat can be used as a way to develop a stronger relationship after talking to someone frequently through text messages or phone calls. Using Snapchat allows the relationship to grow with the use of someone’s face. More than any other relationship, Snapchat has the opportunity to enhance romantic relationships. In an article written by Oscar Raymundo he said that, “Snapchat is practically the mobile version of flirting. After all, a wink lasts only a few seconds too.”
In order to find out more about how Snapchat effects young adult (ages 18-23) relationships, Vaterlaus, Barnett, Roche and Young conducted a study in order to determine the perceptions of how Snapchat behaviors influenced their interpersonal relationships. The young adults were recruited from undergraduate classes at a Midwestern university in the United States. There were 34 students that participated in this study. The participants consisted of 27 females and seven males between the ages of 18 and 23, with a mean age of 20.4. These young adults reported to sending a range of zero to 70 snapchats per day, with a mean of 13 snapchats per day. These 34 participants were then separated into eight focus groups, which ranged from 4-6 participants in each group. Participants were asked several questions based on their Snapchat usage. These questions included: “What is your purpose for using Snapchat?”, “What are your peers’ reasons for using Snapchat?”, “What, if any, is the influence of Snapchat on romantic relationships in college?”, “What, if any is the influence of Snapchat on your relationship with your parents?” The results showed three major themes. The first theme was Snapchat’s role in relational challenges. Secondly, the functionality of Snapchat within interpersonal relationships. Lastly, enhancing interpersonal relationships with Snapchat.
It was found that Snapchat behaviors could lead to challenges within families, friendships and romantic relationships. The study identified four themes that were related to interpersonal relationship challenges. These challenges were that Snapchat can become annoying, lead to jealousy, produce generational differences, and facilitate deviant behavior.
Users found that Snapchat can be annoying with relationships if it is used incorrectly. The article stated that, “Participants indicated that Snapchatting ‘correctly’ involved snapping in moderation. Sending snaps in an excessive amount was perceived to be annoying.” This means that there is a happy medium of snaps which should be sent daily to people in which users have a relationship with. Additional annoyances were found when users do not receive a Snapchat back in a reasonable time or receive one back at all. Another annoyance was found if a recipient does not open a Snapchat and just lets it linger. There are other annoying Snapchat users that have nothing to do with a personal relationship. Some examples of this can be people that only Snapchat when they are partying, people that Snapchat their food constantly, people who have very long Snapchat stories, and many more. These types of Snapchatters could eventually make someone that they have a relationship with, uninterested in them.
Jealousy was another theme within interpersonal relationships found from this study. The study found that, “Participants detailed that the ‘best friends list,’ or the top three friends that a user sends and receives snaps from, has resulted in jealousy within their relationships.” This jealousy was particularly present within young adult romantic relationships, especially when romantic partners are not each other’s best friends. An additional jealousy can occur when a romantic partner has someone of the opposite sex as their best friend, instead of their significant other. Or this could be problematic between best friends of the same sex. The ‘best friends list’ used to be especially problematic, as users used to be able to see who their snapchat friends ‘best friends’ were. This caused a lot of issues, as it exposed who someone might be crushing on or who someone was maybe cheating on someone with.
An article titled, “Snapchat Elicits More Jealousy than Facebook: A Comparison of Snapchat and Facebook Use” examines the differences between Snapchat and Facebook use and their ramifications pertaining to jealousy. This study found that, “the main difference in motives were that Snapchat was used more for flirting and finding new love interests, whereas Facebook was still the main social networking site used for keeping in touch with friends.” Additionally, this article found that when users were presented with potentially jealousy provoking situations, higher jealousy was found with Snapchat than with Facebook. This study done by Utz, Muscanell and Khalid, found that, “participants felt more jealous (compared to Facebook, by level of significance) when the partner added or messaged a previous partner or unknown person of the opposite sex. Only when the partner received a snap or wall post from an unknown member of the opposite sex was jealousy higher on Facebook.” A major reason for the difference of jealousy here has to do with how public or private these things are. Facebook is a more public platform where “likes” are seen by anyone that a user is friends with. But, Snapchat is completely private, which can be very threatening to partners. This same study also examined the need for popularity and found that this is correlated with both Snapchat jealousy and Facebook jealousy. Lastly, this study examined gender differences and self-esteem. However, they found that these variables have no influence on Snapchat or Facebook jealousy.
Another theme found, which was more prevalent with family relationships, is generational differences. A lot of parents just don’t understand the purpose of Snapchat. Personally, when my mom catches me Snapchatting, she usually says, “Why are you always taking pictures of yourself?” Additionally, she gets mad at me if I take a Snapchat of her, because she doesn’t want herself being put out into the “universe.” In the article, participants claimed that their parents thought it was “dumb” or a “waste of time.” The results of the study found that the generational differences resulted in, “missed opportunities for parent-child closeness or increased tension in the parent-child relationship.” Additionally, it is perceived as very uncool when someone’s parents are on Snapchat. Typically, young adults do not want to be Snapchat friends with their parents, or even other family members such as aunts and uncles. This is because young adults don’t want their family members to see what they do on the weekends, or they don’t think that their family members will appreciate their sense of humor on Snapchat. Personally, I have experienced this relational gap with friends that are around 18-19 years old, which is a few years younger than myself. I have realized that the younger generation seems to Snapchat at a higher frequency than people who are around 22, like myself. In addition to their high frequency, they tend to use Snapchat to have continuous conversations with friends. In contrast, people my age seem to use the app more to showcase funny events or circumstances.
The last theme found in this study was that Snapchat causes deviant behavior within interpersonal relationships. The examples of deviant behavior provided by the users were,”cheating, saving and disseminating incriminating snaps, and cyberbullying.” Since Snapchat has the feature in which a photo disappears, young adults use this app to sext, particularly to send nude photos. The results found that, “Sexting via Snapchat was reportedly used between romantic partners, but could also facilitate relational infidelity.” The disappearing of the photos has allowed Snapchat to become a medium in which users can cheat. However, not only does Snapchat allow users to be more discrete with their deviant behavior, but it is also an easy way to identify cheating behaviors. Mariana, a 21-year-old participant of the study stated that, “I have a friend and on her boyfriend’s phone she found out that he was cheating on her because of snapchats. Because she kept seeing this girl’s name pop up and she went through his messages and he was talking to her about inappropriate pictures-so she found out he was cheating on her through Snapchat.”
The functionality of the photos disappearing also contribute to cyberbullying. According to StopBullying.gov, cyberbullying occurs when, “kids bully each other through electronic technology.” This is done when users take a photo of someone without their permission and write a caption that makes fun of that person. Usually people do this with the intention that it will remain private. However, sometimes a receiver screenshots the photograph and then that picture becomes viral. Additionally, users can purposely send mean photos to a person that they want to cyberbully. Since the image goes away so quickly, unless the receiver screenshots the image, they have no proof of the cyberbullying. Users see this as an easy way to avoid getting in trouble.
Lastly, deviant behavior occurs when users “save and disseminate incriminating snaps.” These incriminating snapchats can be a wide range of photographs. Typically they involve naked photographs, ugly or embarrassing photographs of someone, and photographs with an intention to bully someone, to name a few. While there are other photos that fall into this category, the main criteria of this deviant behavior is that the photograph will hurt or embarrass someone.
Although these risks are present when using Snapchat, that does not necessarily mean that this is a bad app for society. There are potential risks and consequences with using any social media app, especially within relationships. Eric Klinenberg is a sociologist at New York University and was a co-author of the book Modern Romance with Aziz Ansari. Klinenberg touched on this concept when he said, “Show me the history of any new communication technology, and I can find a hysterical article bemoaning the demise of all future relationships.” In life there are always going to be some negatives to any positive situation. In this situation, for Snapchat the negatives are unfortunately connected to interpersonal relationships. However, this is just a risk that users should be aware of, and by no means does it mean that users should abandon the app that they have grown to love.
Image from: http://www.businessinsider.com/we-need-to-start-dating-again-essay-is-going-viral-2015-7
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Vaterlaus, J. M., Barnett, K., Roche, C., & Young, J. A. (2016). “Snapchat is more personal”: An exploratory study on Snapchat behaviors and young adult interpersonal relationships.Computers In Human Behavior, 62, 594-601.
Image from: http://www.dailydot.com/debug/snapchat-emoji-friendships/
Image from: http://love-facts.com/post/115321020999/love-fact-1301-a-study-found-that-snapchat-causes
Image from: http://cyberbullying.org/blog
Utz, S., Muscanell, N., & Khalid, C. (2015). Snapchat Elicits More Jealousy than Facebook: A Comparison of Snapchat and Facebook Use.Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 18(3), 141-146.
GILES, M., & DRAXLER, B. (2016). Let’s Talk About Love in the App Age. Popular Science,288(1), 30-31.
Image from: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23453112-modern-romance
Image from: https://onsizzle.com/i/back-when-snapchat-use-to-ruin-relationships-oo-my-friends-372307
Image from: https://mic.com/articles/113818/this-is-how-snapchat-is-affecting-your-love-life#.rnfg7koMs
Image from: http://technmarketing.com/tech/when-i-follow-unfollow-and-downright-block-someone-on-snapchat/