At a time when people struggle with a seemingly diminishing attention span, Snapchat could be the best form of communication but its overuse could make you addictive, researchers say.
"For certain people, Snapchat enables them to overcome communication apprehension by using a different means of communication where they do not have a threat in their face. At the same time, there are people who are addicted to it," said graduate student J.J. Delacruz at Texas Tech University.
For the study, researchers recruited students in the College of Media and Communication through the department's Sona survey system, where students earn extra credit in certain classes for participating in online surveys.
They also administered the survey to those who responded to requests through TechAnnounce — the official email announcement/communication method for Texas Tech University — totalling almost 500 students altogether.
The survey asked students who use Snapchat about their reasons for using the medium, including needs and motivations. It also asked about general social media use motivations, such as personality characteristics and what made them tend to gravitate toward Snapchat as a social medium. It also asked questions to help researchers analyse differences between males and females.
The brevity of Snapchat posts was a key factor for two big reasons. One, people using Snapchat felt much more trustworthy with how they shared content with others. Two, because the content disappears quickly, users are able to share their lives and don't feel the pressure to present themselves in an extraordinary form — they can just be their normal, real self, researchers said.
"They thought that was a good way to maintain ties with people they were already very close with, interpersonally," Delacruz said. The researchers also mentioned that Snapchat can be a useful tool to help overcome apprehension about communicating on a public forum, it can also swing the other way and become addictive.
"Knowing their motivations would definitely help people who advise those with the addiction. It can help them have a better understanding of how to be confident and effective communicators," the graduate student added.