May 25, 2023

Snapchat vs. iMessage: The battle for students’ attention in digital conversations

It’s a common debate: are you team Snapchat or team iMessage? From Snapchat’s creative filters and disappearing content to iMessage’s traditional approach to conversation, many students clash over which one rules supreme. 

With iMessage being the most-used communication app for teens in the U.S., and Snapchat ranking number two, it’s a close and competitive battle. 

Dive deeper for the rundown on these two platforms and how students are using them: 

The Rundown 

For students, social media is how students are social. Apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and iMessage play a critical role in how students communicate, connect, and stay up-to-date on trending topics and events.

 So which apps do students prioritize and how are they using these apps?

  • What is Snapchat & what does it do? Snapchat is a multimedia, instant messaging app that allows users to chat, send disappearing pictures called “snaps,” and make calls to friends from any location. The app has changed over time to add more features, like “My AI,” “Stories,” “Discover,”  and “Snap Maps”. The popular platform is used by nearly 3/4ths of people ages 16-24, making it a household name when it comes to social media apps. 
  • What is iMessage & what does it do? iMessages are instant texts, photos, or videos that you send to another iPhone or iOS Apple device. These messages appear as blue text bubbles when sent to another iPhone or iOS Apple device, but appear green indicating SMS texts, which typically reveal that the other user is not using iMessage, meaning they might be using a different kind of smartphone. 

Both iMessage and Snapchat race to gain and maintain Gen Z users. Of people ages 18-24, 88% use an Apple smartphone, which means Snapchat and Apple are marketing to the same age demographics. 

Young adults like Zoe Carlow started using Snapchat in middle school. Now 22 and a recent college graduate, Zoe still uses Snapchat and plans on keeping it that way. Zoe shares that, “I’ve told one of my friends that we’ll keep our streak going far, far into the future. Even after we’re both married.” Zoe’s experience is consistent with the experiences documented in our 2023 Insight Report.

In our 2023 Insight Report, high schoolers use Snapchat the most on a weekly basis in comparison to iMessages. Compared to middle school and elementary school students, students use iMessages more than Snapchat, if they use Snapchat at all. 

TSI’s Take

In today’s digital age, the way we communicate is constantly changing, and platforms like Snapchat and iMessage revolutionize the way we connect with others. 

At The Social Institute, we encourage students to live up to our Seven Social Standards that empower them to navigate social media and technology thoughtfully and intentionally. 

One of our standards, Strike a Balance, emphasizes the significance of fostering a healthy relationship between digital usage and in-person experiences. 

You can empower your students to Strike A Balance when it comes to their online and offline lives by empowering them to: 

  1. Take a break from social media when they notice it getting in the way of their daily life.
  2. Prioritize homework, chores, and other essential things before using their device for fun.
  3. Balance the time they spend on devices to reach their goals.

If you’re interested in learning even more about an educators’ role in empowering students to strike a balance with technology, check out our school playbook.

Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest trends online by subscribing to our newsletter where we talk about trending tech and social media news weekly! In the meantime, check out our Instagram and TikTok @thesocialinst for tips, trends, and highlights when it comes to social media. 

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and creator of #WinAtSocial, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences — online and offline — in healthy ways. Our unique, student-respected approach incorporates topics like social media, technology use, and current events that have a significant impact on student well-being. Lessons teach life skills for the modern day to inspire high-character decisions that support the health, happiness, and future success of students, while capturing data that provides insights to school leaders to inform school policy and communications, and enable high-impact teaching and a healthy learning environment. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.