Cameras have been in cell phones for a while, but it hasn’t been until recently that they’ve taken center stage on the teen social scene. We take photos of everything, whether it be friends at a dance, or the beautiful hamburger that just appeared on our plate.
With Instragram, we can share the photos, complete with artsy effects, with anyone who “follows” our feed. Or we can make a video montage of cool ski tricks that our friends pulled off using Vine, a six second video-maker. Or we can send funny face photos to each other that will appear for 3 seconds, then vanish forever with Snapchat. Here’s a little more about some of the most popular apps.
Instagram is a social networking site based off of pictures you take using the free Instagram app with a smartphone camera. In the app, you take photos, apply any number of special effects and then post them on your wall for other people to see.
These special effects, such as “Mayfair,” “Earlybird,” and “Willow,” filter or change the lighting to suit your tastes. The names don’t seem to have much relation to what they do as far as I can tell. The most common photos teens post seem to be landscapes, sunsets, food and selfies, or as my friend Matt says, “Food, mountains, or mountains of food!”
Vine is similar to Instagram, but instead of pictures, videos are posted that are a maximum of 6 seconds long. The video only records when you are pressing on the screen, so many people use stop motion for effect in them.
One funny video starts with two vertical pieces of white bread. The author uses stop motion to make it look like they disappear into the countertop and pop back out as toast. Check out this video and other great Vines here. Originally only released for iOS (apple devices like the iPod and iPhone), Vine is now supported by Android as of June 6th.
With Snapchat people can take a picture of themselves or of anything (but mostly themselves) and send it to someone via their smartphone camera. The critical feature is that the picture dissipates after a small amount time (you can choose how long the picture will be shown, from 3-10 seconds).
You may have heard of “sexting,” where teens send risqué photos of themselves to significant others. Snapchat is well-suited for this sketchy activity because the photo will disappear after a few seconds after the receiver sees it, never to be seen again. That way an ex or mean-spirited friend can’t forward the photo around school.
But what if the recipient takes a screenshot of the photo in that brief window of time? The makers of Snapchat thought of this, and while they can’t prevent it, they added a feature so that if someone screenshots a photo you sent, you are alerted of it.
It isn’t all illicit though. You can also draw on the picture you take before you send it, Microsoft Paint-style, with your finger. You can also type a message that shows up on the photo, but it can only be as long as the width of the screen so it keeps them concise.
It’s a very fun app, just used for the wrong reasons sometimes.
Trust me, even I get overwhelmed by all of the apps out there sometimes. I haven’t even mentioned Path, Camera+ and GifBOOM, all popular iPhone apps that use the camera, but those will be for another time I suppose.
Please send your blog post ideas. I got a suggestion to write about how to stop Internet game addiction. If I could figure that out I’d be rich man . . . and my grades would probably improve.
Aidan Weed is a high school sophomore who lives in Seattle. He enjoys drumming, lacrosse and video games, and his favorite subject in school is Latin.