In the airy, sun-soaked living room of their Malibu cottage, Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel and his supermodel wife Miranda Kerr exchange looks of amusement as they listen to their two-year-old son babble gleefully into the screen of the tablet he is holding. The screen shows the toddler’s great-grandmother enveloped in blue flames and with blue, feline eyes. On the other end, the great-grandmother flinches when an orange, animated cat appears perched on her great-grandson’s head, where it proceeds to wag its tail lazily. The two relatives have not been able to see each other in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but as avid users of Snapchat’s augmented reality lenses, they have had no shortage of opportunities to make each other laugh.
To Spiegel, this intergenerational exchange taking place in his living room is a testament to the versatility of the app he first thought up as a Stanford student in 2011. When he proposed the idea for a photo-sharing app that would delete shared images instantaneously, his peers ridiculed it.
“Everyone said, ‘That is a terrible idea,’” he recalls. “Not only is nobody going to use it, they said, but the only people who do, will use it for sexting.”
Less than a decade later, Snapchat’s 229 million users are sending an average of four billion snaps every day. The app has grown so popular among young people that gen Z has become synonymous with the ‘Snapchat Generation’. But this nickname belies the reality that Snapchat has introduced new and unique ways of socialising that people of all ages and across demographics can embrace. In the first quarter of 2020, the total daily time spent watching content on Snapchat’s Discover feature doubled year-on-year among users over the age of 35.
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