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Challenge: Kids and Technology

He Left me on open! Oh, Snap! - Parent’s Guide to SnapChat.

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Just when I think I caught up and learned the ins and outs of middle school students, I run head on into a brick wall. Let me explain my predicament. I see this teary-eyed young lady quietly walking down the hall to homeroom. So, I decide to intervene, just like any other compassionate adult would in this situation. I approach cautiously - as a four-year old, little boy would a bunny when trying to catch the cute little creature. I always want to make sure all of my students are okay, but I don't want to make a situation worse during what appears to be a very trying time for her. I catch her eye with my most sympathetic gaze. Without even saying anything, she looked at me and said, “He left me on open.” I pause, trying to look as if I understand her predicament, but really I am stalling while I plan my intervention. So, without further hesitation, I proceed with “Who left you on open” and cross my fingers that I even want to know what is meant by on open?” She was very forthcoming with the name of a 14 year old boy who also attends the school. I assure her that everything was going to be okay, to take a deep breathe and take one class period at a time. She agrees and promises to come see me if she needs anything. I watch her disappear into a classroom and hurriedly I open the door to another room of students. I scan the room carefully, and ask to see one of my best resources for teenage drama assistance.

Parents of teenagers - Take note. My conversation with this student went as follows:

Me: “So, I was wondering if you could help me out a little. I am trying to figure out what is meant to be left on open?”

Student eagerly jumps in with, “OMG, who was left on open?”

Me: “Does it really matter? I just want to know the meaning behind the phrase.”

Student replies with excitement: “It does matter because the person that was left on open is in danger of losing their streak.”

Me: “Streak of what and you can’t be on open to have a streak?” I probably appear to look a little nervous because the conversation is getting deep.

Student looks at me like I have two heads: “You don’t want to lose your streak, Snap only lets you restore a streak one time and after that it is gone forever.”

Me (so many questions are entering my mind.): “Is a streak really that important? and Is Snap really SnapChat? I thought SnapChat was for pictures you want to share.”

The student nodded and continued, “It is, but you have to keep sending pictures to keep your streak and increase your snap score.”

Me: “Yikes! Let’s start over…on open?”

Student: “Oh, it means the snap was opened, but not responded to. So someone is really blowing someone off. Can you now tell me who was left on open?”

Me: “Absolutely not! So did you ever think that maybe that person’s phone died or they are busy.”

Student gives me a frustrated look. “Well, If someone told you they were left on open, they are also aware that that person has been on snap and is avoiding their message. SnapChat will tell you the last time a person was on Snap. Now, if she was left on delivered, that means the snap went through, but the receiver is ignoring the snap and didn't even have the courtesy to open the snap! I am not sure which is worse, but both are not good.”

Me: “So if the person actually reads the snap, that is a bad thing?”

“Yes, it means they read the snap but are choosing not to respond. That is a major blow off.”

As I contemplate continuing this conversation, I experience a vivid memory of Abbott and Costello’s, “Who's on First?” I politely thank her for her time, and hustle to my office for some Urban Dictionary education.

What I found out:

Left on open means a snap was sent and the recipient opened it, which is a complicated way of saying the snap was read.. In addition, SnapChat records and reports when a person is on Snap so the original sender has proof that the recipient is not busy or away from their phone, but just being stubborn. Hence, why the young girl was so upset. She was left on open intentionally.

Left on delivered means the recipient did not even take the time to open and read the snap. Also devastating to an original snapper.

Snap score means this app is counting how many times everyone is snapping back and forth. The more you snap, the higher the score. This is another indicator if someone is purposely leaving you on delivered. If the recipient’s snap score is rising, they are actively snapping.

Streaks are created after you snap someone over a few days, but within a 24 hour period. Your streaks with each member you snap is also recorded. But get this: If you do not snap within a 24 hour period, the streak is gone and you have to start over. I know what you are thinking, how do you keep track of all these 24 hour periods? Awe, simple, the app puts a timer next to the name of the person warning you that his or her time is almost up.

So after taking this all in and realizing how lucky I was to just have to pass paper and pencil notes, I decided to check on this girl. I look up where she is and I walk to her classroom. When I have her in the hall, she looks even more distraught. Thinking I understand this Snap language, I ask, “What happened and did he now leave you in delivered?” She frowned and said, “No, I am still left on open, but now we lost our heart so his second favorite on his best friends list passed me up and now has his heart.” Of course, I asked how she knows that and she replied “I keep checking my phone.”

Okay so we will leave it at that because I am once again clueless and I'm shocked at just another way technology is taking over our kids. This is time consuming to keep up with all of this and kids are becoming addicted. Continuing my research, I found that on average kids snap each other back and forth between 40-50 times a day, competing to maintain snap status. I also found it is common for students to have 500-1000 day streaks. No wonder we are having trouble with incomplete homework and lack of content mastery. The kids are too busy snapping. I don’t even want to know how many kids are on each other’s daily snap list.

So, I chalked this experience up to kids having their priorities totally out of whack. They are addicted to social media where relationships are based on hearts and best friend lists. More concerning, I have a student breaking our cell phone policy of leaving their phones in their lockers - turned off!

Oh, Snap!

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