Beyond SnaPs: How High school Journalists can use SnapChat as a tool to improve reporting Hannah Freeland and Tracy Anderson

When we returned to school after winter break, students were eager to discuss issues surrounding the U.S. military strike in Iran that took place on Dec. 31. Students pointed out that their social media feeds were overwhelmed with posts about “World War III” with many young people turning to memes and humor in response to the political turmoil.

Was the overwhelming social media response in the U.S. mirrored in Iran and Iraq? Are young people in the Middle East turning to social networks to cope with the threat of violence too?

Investigating global issues may not be the primary goal of most users on social networking apps, but teens are already using these platforms to learn more about what's going on in different parts of the world. This is the time for journalism advisers to help students engage on these platforms as journalists.

“When I’m bored I’ll just tap around and see what’s going on in the world" said Mia Goldstein, Community High School sophomore. "I saw a TikTok the other day where a user pressed on a hotspot in Iran and found videos of street protests.” Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok provide students with an entry point to engage with current events, as they’re happening, on a micro level. This offers students contact with primary sources and opens up space for students to cover events that are happening around the world.

In March of 2018, students across the country used Snapchat to document the National School Walkout honoring victims of gun violence in schools. Image: Tiffany Kelly/Snapchat Samantha Grasso/Snapchat (Fair Use) Remix by Samantha Grasso

Social media is one of the primary ways that young people access information about what is going on around them. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram can connect teens not only with their peers, but with people, issues, and events around the world. Features like Snapchat Maps can be powerful tools for students to engage with others on a global scale.

Geotagging - an optional feature on many social media platforms - enables users to add location information to their posts. Global “hotspots” emerge when many people in the same area are posting. Students can use these hotspots locally or globally.

the Future is in their hands...Let's help them.

As journalism advisers, we need to help students make the best use of the phones in their hands. Social media can open up research, reporting and information sharing in a way that hasn't been possible before. We need to teach our students how to responsibly use these platforms, but in order to do so, we may have to get on Snapchat ourselves so we can see the power of Snap Maps in real time.


Created with images by Samantha Sophia - "1st Annual Teen Vogue Conference in Los Angele, CA." • Gian Cescon - "We are."