The UK Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has warned that parents should not be allowing their kids to use Snapchat. According to Longfield, the app had “addictive elements”.
In an interview with radio station LBC, Longfield explained that a greater number of schools across the country were already banning the app.
What makes Snapchat potentially so addictive is its streak feature. A Snapchat streak is essentially a message on the app that is being sent back and forth between two people over several days. The app offers emoji rewards for longer streaks. For example, streaks that last 100 days are receiving the “100” emoji.
Some teens really get into it and spend a large amount of time to keep streaks going. In addition, many of them measure their own success on the app in terms of streaks.
A Business Insider post previously asked teens what streaks meant to them personally. For many respondents, they were likened to friendship development. One teen said it was “physical evidence that you talk [with your friend] every day”.
However, not only are teens spending time to set up streaks in the morning before school, but they are also asking others to streak for them if they cannot make a deadline. One respondent explained:
“One of my friends actually called me while I was sleeping to make sure our streak would still be going. He called me four times and woke me up to keep the streak alive. He was like, ‘Are we still streaking?'”
Longfield has now asked for a meeting with Snapchat in order to discuss the addictive elements of the app.
“It’s Snapchat that has particularly addictive elements where you have to streak with friends and keep friendship with them. There’s a lot to be explained there,” Longfield said.
The interview followed a recent report by the Children’s Commissioner which found that kids between eight and ten years old were having trouble managing their social likes and comments for validation. In addition, many were creating an online image that they were trying to emulate offline, resulting in greater pressure and anxiety. Staying connected on social media has also led to them abandoning other activities.