Most of you have probably heard of Snapchat. If not, you’ve been missing out! I was skeptical at first, thinking it was just some crazy fad that all the teenagers were into. But I was wrong! This smart phone app literally puts a smile on my face every time I open it. Many times that is my only reason for opening the app; to either put myself in a better mood or to put a smile on someone else’s face.
If you have been living under a rock for the past year, let me explain what Snapchat is, and why it may be helpful. Snapchat is a mobile camera app that uses different filters to distort or accessorize your face in a variety of different ways. It can turn your face into a panda bear, puppy dog, leopard, Elvis Presley, Olympic athlete, or a bee with a voice changer. Or it can give you accessories such as a princess crown, tattoos, glasses, bandana, a mustache or a hat. Other filters distort your facial features, making it look like you have a really large mouth, or a really small chin- the results are almost always hilarious. Another popular filter that I personally can’t get on board with is Face Swap. With this filter, you can see how someone else’s face would look on your head. This filter can be funny or oftentimes quite creepy! The filters change daily so it never gets old. Unlike Photoshop, where you can add effects to an existing picture, this technology has facial recognition and the filters that adjust and adapt to your facial features in real time, so you can take a picture making different faces or a video of yourself singing like Madonna. I don’t understand the engineering behind it, but it is quite an experience that you really have to try for yourself.
Lest you think that I am actually cool enough to figure this all out on my own, let me explain. This summer, my 17 year-old niece worked as our nanny and started sending me Snapchats of our kids almost daily. Nearly every picture or video made me laugh out loud in my office. Seeing these videos brightened my day! Then I started to think about how else this amazing “happy” app could be used. I started using it to help my son when he started to get “gloomy,” as he calls it. It even works on my husband! The other day he was at the doctor’s office with the kids, and I could tell he was getting annoyed with their behavior. We were texting back and forth, and I reminded him that our kids pick up on our moods, and if we’re grumpy they will reflect that attitude, but if we’re happy and try to smile, it’s contagious. It was clear that he wasn’t in a good mood, so I decided to fix that. I sent him at least five Snapchats using the funniest filters (and that day they had some particularly funny ones). Then I told him to check Snapchat. As easy as that, I had my husband laughing out loud in the middle of the doctor’s office. Mission accomplished!
The most beneficial use so far, which has drastically changed our life and saved our summer, has been to help my children regulate when they are melting down. When our kids are melting down, it often takes something drastic to flip their switch to get them unstuck. Snapchat is my new tool for helping my kids, and it works! Before Snapchat, I used to create some crazy scenario on the fly to get them out of a meltdown; I’d blow raspberries on my child’s tummy, tickle, or do a puppet show. One time, I even let my dog out of the gate (on purpose, shhh don’t tell the kids!) then yelled for everyone to help me get her back inside. Once the dog was back safe and sound, whatever was going on with my kids before was history, and then we could talk about it and move on. Of course, this trick had to be used sparingly, because I think they’d start to catch on, or start to worry that our gate was broken! So each time, I would have to come up with something else crazy and off the wall that hasn’t been used before. But Snapchat does the work for me, creating silly, crazy, unique scenarios and distorting your face into a zombie doing karaoke. What’s not funny about turning your mom into a zombie doing karaoke?!
When my child is melting down and I can’t be there, we use Facetime so I can help her regulate. This summer I got a Facetime on a particularly rough day, and said to my child, “Hey! I haven’t gotten a Snapchat from you today! I think you should probably get on there and send me at least five!” Sure enough, Snapchat saved the day, and I didn’t even have to come home from work! I even send silly ones back to her. Another great thing about Snapchat is that the silly photos and videos disappear from the other person’s phone. You can take a screenshot of the pictures, though; my husband may or may not have a particularly funny picture of me on his phone that he looks at randomly when he needs a laugh (or maybe he’s keeping it for blackmail, I’m not so sure!)
Snapchat may not work for you and your family but it’s definitely worth a try! It has changed how we help our kids regulate, and given us so many more laughs each day.