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Selfie is a winner – and some teens’ photo culture updates
November 20, 2013
The Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the year was just announced, and the winner is (drumrolls please) ‘selfie’. Given that the frequency of use of this word increased by 17,000% in the last year, it comes with little surprise that the decision was virtually unanimous.
In the light of the victory of the selfie, I thought this is a good moment to give you an update about some of the latest stats and interesting news from the world of photography-based social networks.
Earlier this year, Maurice wrote a blog post analysing the appeal of Instagram and similar platforms, looking at what is it about them that makes teens abandon Facebook. Do check it out for some great insights on the underlying reasons for the popularity of the photo sharing culture with the teens. This popularity is definitely on an upward trend: Ofcom reported last month that 33% of UK’s 12-15 year olds are using their mobile phones for putting up photos or videos on sites like YouTube, Facebook or Instagram for others to see. This is almost twice as much as last year, when only 17% did so. If anything, we expect this trend to be the one to further increase, as smartphones become more ubiquitous and privacy is better understood and regulated.
Talking about privacy, Snapchat, the photo sharing app where pics disappear after 10 seconds, currently has the lion’s share of press due to reportedly turning down a $3bn acquisition offer from Facebook. Time will show whether this was a good decision, but with over 400 million snaps shared daily, Snapchat currently accounts for more photo shares than both Instagram and Facebook. The ephemerality of Snapchat’s content is exactly what attracts its users, but also at the foundations of some concerns (mostly by parents) following numerous headlines that the app is being used for sexting. In our experience of working with kids and teens, for the majority of them it is much more about sharing of the everyday and the mundane, little things to make a friend smile. It is about sharing photos which are not “meaningful” enough to be posted on a traditional social network where there is an image to be maintained.
I’d also like to bring your attention to a newcomer: Shots of Me. Backed up by Justin Bieber, this app, which launched last week, is said to target a young demographic and in particular teenage girls. It invites users to share exclusively selfies, and goes so far in this intention so as to block the rear camera on the phone. A unique and interesting feature is that this app does not allow comments. The makers believe that whilst saying something nasty on a pic of someone’s lunch may or may not be hurtful, commenting on people’s selfies can be much harder to digest if negative. Photos of oneself leave people vulnerable and therefore – no comments.
And finally, ending on a note which encourages our faith in humanity: where there is a selfie, there is an #unselfie too. In a recent initiative, thousands of users of social networks have been sharing photos of themselves holding up a piece of paper with the URL of the donation page to send aid to the Philippines. So go on, post an #unselfie too.
Image courtesy of smbuckley23