Snapchat and Education – Can They Co-Exist?

I am sure every school is having this issue: How do you deal with students using Snapchat (or any social media for that matter) at times when they should be paying attention to class?

Many schools will go the authoritarian route and block Snapchat (et al) on their wireless network.  But our students are so much smarter with technology than most of us.  They know how to use a VPN to tunnel through firewall restrictions.  They know how to switch to cellular service to bypass the network completely.  And some even know how to setup their own network to bypass all the restraints.

Let’s look at this from their perspective for a moment.  Snapchat use has grown 400% in the last year, primarily among the younger age ranges.  Although Facebook still holds the title as the leading social media platform (even for our younger generations), Snapchat is rising in popularity as a means of communication at an unprecedented rate.

30% of Snapchat users say they use it because their parents aren’t on it. 35% say they use it because their content disappears. And the average amount of time they spend on the Snapchat network is 30 minutes per day.

What if education got an extra 30 minutes per day of interaction with them?

A better approach that schools and institutions can take is to use an Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”).  In the policy, you lay out what the restrictions are; like not using Snapchat during class.  But also include when it’s OK to use it – like during lunch or after school.  Have the student sign off on the policy.  And if they are using Snapchat during class, the teacher needs to step in and take the phone until the end of class.

Network administrators: if you allow Snapchat on your network, most firewall systems can tell you who it is using it at a time when they shouldn’t be.  If you block it, you’ll never know who bypassed your network.

But how about a total shift in perspective?  Embrace the tools that students are using so that we have a better connection with them.  How cool would it be for a teacher to Snapchat a picture of an important piece of a lesson to make the point of its importance?  Most every student would connect with them on Snapchat just to see it.

A message to those who go the authoritarian route on this.  You won’t stop them from using the apps they want to use.  You’re only putting another barrier between you and the students you need to connect with.


By Kevin Justice
Technologist, Maker, Teacher

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