Impact on Literacy

As a form of social media, Snapchat has not adversely affected the basic literacies.  However, it has reduced the reliance and necessity of the classical form of literacy in terms of reading at writing.  This is because “snaps” are often sent without texts, and so they are just the videos or photographs.  Users are not required to write in any captions or texts.  In this way, some writers suggest that Snapchat is a type of “oral medium” in which information aggregation is rejected, as demonstrated by the ephemeral nature of the application (Naughton, 2017).  Therefore, Snapchat could potentially have a dramatic impact on literacy if it is a harbinger of future technologies that rely on temporary methods of transmitting information unlike written language mediums.

However, I believe that Snapchat has also increased forms of non-classical literacies, especially cultural literacies.  This is because Snapchat allows users to view the stories of users from other countries and locales.  For example, one current Snapchat event at the time of this writing is the Boston Marathon, and another is of users who are in Switzerland.  Although I haven’t been to the Boston Marathon or Switzerland, I can use Snapchat to gain an insight into both of these places/events through the lives of local people are are familiar with them.  In this way, Snapchat has given me a better understanding of what these places are like, what the customs/traditions are, and has increased my general knowledge of them.  Therefore, Snapchat has increased by literacy of Switzerland and the Boston Marathon because I know what they look like and some of the things that they do.


A Snapchat “filter” in Barcelona, Spain.  Source.

Since Snapchat is a mobile application, it is obviously restricted to those who have access to a smartphone and some sort of wireless network.  Therefore, I would argue that these societal and literate effects have occurred in first world countries and to younger populations, because demographics have shown that primary users of snapchat are 18-24 year olds (Newberry, 2016).