Snapchat: a few seconds of giggles or scarred-for-life sexts?

Photoillustration by Leighann McGivern.

Photoillustration by Leighann McGivern.

Andrew Baker

Snapchat has become one of the most popular smartphone applications among young adults, including many Kent State students.

The app, which has over 40 million users according to, allows users to take a picture or video and send it to one person or a group of people at a time. Its website claims it “is the fastest way to share a moment on iPhone and Android.”

Jessica Holbrook, freshman zoology major, said she feels the app is a more effective way of communicating than text messaging.

“It’s a more fun way of communicating than texting because you get to see people and their facial expressions, not just words,” Holbrook said.

Mike Schoeb, sophomore aeronautics major, said he uses the app to humor his friends.

“Getting random pictures from your friends can be hilarious,” Schoeb said. “I die laughing all the time.”

Though many consider it an enjoyable app, Snapchat does have some privacy issues.

“Snaps” can be viewed for between one and 10 seconds, a limit chosen by the sender, and can also include a short text message. Images disappear from both devices and the Snapchat servers when the time limit expires.

Because Snaps disappear after just seconds, some consider it a safe way to “sext” or send explicit pictures. However, many users have discovered a loophole for saving pictures as iPhones and some other smartphones have the ability to save a screenshot of the opened image.

As the app has increased in popularity, clones such as Facebook’s “Poke” have emerged. Both Poke and Snapchat claim they will notify you if a screen shot of your photo is taken, but there is no way to prevent the receiver from keeping the photo.

Despite frequent media focus on the potential explicit uses of Snapchat, Kent State students don’t think sexting is a popular use of the application. Many students think sexting will happen regardless of new apps that make it safer.

“I think the majority of people who send dirty pictures just do that through regular picture messages,” Holbrook said. “Snapchat hasn’t really caused an increase in that.”

Others think that sexting occurs much less as people get older.

“Upperclassmen are mature enough to not [sext],” junior news major Chris Woods said. “I think some freshman still do it, but it is mostly for high schoolers.”

And then there are those students who don’t find any interest in Snapchat at all.

“I don’t get the point of sending a picture that is just going to disappear after a few seconds,” Woods said.

“There are many better ways to communicate,” Eric Armstead, junior pre-business major said. “I’d rather text or talk on the phone.”

Contact Andrew Baker at [email protected].