"What do they snapchat about?" Patterns of use in time-limited instant messaging service

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The use of Snapchat - a time-limited instant messaging service - has been rapidly rising amongst adolescents. However, the exact nature of Snapchat use remains difficult to examine due to the self-destructive nature of content sent and received via this service. We report an online survey conducted with the use of a memory sampling method to enquire about the specific details of the very last image or video each participant sent and received via Snapchat. We found that users mainly share 'selfies', typically embed text and 'doodles' with photos they share, use it mostly at home, and primarily for communication with close friends and family as an 'easier and funnier' alternative to other instant messaging services. We also found that high intensity of Snapchat use was more associated with bonding rather than bridging social capital. We discuss those findings in the context of existing studies on the use of instant messaging services and social networking sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3653
Pages (from-to)358-367
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date1 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Critical incidence technique
  • Instant messaging (IM)
  • Snapchat
  • Social capital
  • Social network sites


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