US & Canada

Snapchat: Embarrassing parents and social media

Lynn and Hannah
Image caption British teenager Hannah (R) has taught her mother Lynn to use Snapchat

Parents can be embarrassing - and Barack Obama is no exception.

At dinner with his family in the White House, he professed an interest in popular photo and video-sharing app Snapchat and asked daughter Sasha to explain it.

He then turned to wife Michelle and began rambling on about the "implications of social media and what all this means".

"I came to find out that she was recording the whole time and then sent to her friends afterward: 'This is my dad lecturing us on the meaning of social media'," Mr Obama told NBC.

"And she took a picture of herself sort of looking bored."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sasha Obama (R) gently mocked her father on Snapchat

But the US president is not alone.

Having comprehensively mastered Facebook and Twitter - and in some cases driven their children off those platforms in the process - millions of parents around the world are now grappling with Snapchat.

Their offspring are amused and/or horrified.

Image copyright Twitter

But the statistics show mum and dad are becoming happy snappers regardless.

In June, Comscore found that 14% of Snapchat users were aged 35 or over, up from just 2% in 2013. It was a similar story in the 25-34 age bracket, which now accounts for 38% of users, up from 5% three years ago.

The app's filters and the "stories" function - enabling a user's snaps to be viewed in chronological order an unlimited number of times over 24 hours - have driven the growth, Comscore said.

'I think it's funny'

Like Sasha Obama, British 16-year-old Hannah was asked by a parent to explain Snapchat - this time her mother, primary school teacher Lynn.

Hannah has used Snapchat to send funny pictures to her friends since the app came out, but teaching her mum to do the same was a frustrating process.

"I have to keep telling her again and again. She doesn't know how to use the video properly, or the filters," she says.

Image copyright AFP/getty
Image caption Dads in particular can be a nightmare

But a measure of success has now been achieved.

"She sends me ones with filters all the time," says Hannah. "I think it's funny. I don't really mind if she uses it just as long as she doesn't Snapchat my friends because that would be weird."

'For them it's instinctive and for me it's really not'

Lynn says she wanted to learn how to use Snapchat to keep up with the children at her school and also just for fun.

"I feel that at my age I shouldn't be afraid of technology or be left behind so I try things out," she says.

But keeping up with the kids has not been straightforward.

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Media captionKing of Snapchat DJ Khaled

"They get very frustrated and do that thing where they grab the phone and do it themselves," she says.

"They've grown up in a world of technology where they are given iPads virtually from birth. For them it's instinctive and for me it's really not."

Despite that, as a Snapchatting mother she is a pioneer among parents, way ahead of the majority.

The rest - Mr Obama included - are still staring at the little ghost on a yellow background and wondering what on earth to do next.

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