Family Resources on Just Because It Disappears… Does That Make It Okay?

Project and Purpose

Many students have misconceptions about social media sites, students will discuss the implications of using the site Snapchat. You may wish to discuss TikTok and/or Instagram with your student as these have their own short and long-term implications. For example, see the following article in Parents Magazine: Is TikTok safe for kids?

Essential Questions

How do ephemeral sites like Snapchat impact our daily lives?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed the potential downside of
ephemeral apps focusing on Snapchat (because of Snapchat’s popularity). In class students discussed how an app where content seems to disappear after a short time may not always be harmless and can have unintended consequences for users. In groups or individually students created a persuasive argument either for or against the use of ephemeral apps.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

While many social media platforms offer a variety of positive services, youth and young adults often are not aware of the downsides or unintended consequences for users of social media apps. Learning all the advantages and disadvantages for using a social media platform is important to protect privacy and safety.

Conversation notes:
It should be noted that while this particular lesson is focused on Snapchat, using many popular social media apps may have positive and negative consequences. Common Sense Media is a non-profit that provides information about many popular apps (as well as other media information including television and books).

The Common Sense Media review of Snapchat can be found here:

The homepage for Common Sense Media can be found here:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Describe the persuasive argument you (or your group) made. Was it well received and effective? Why or why not?

What are potential downsides of using an ephemeral app? Why do you think people do not realize the negatives?

List all the social media apps members of this family use. What are the positive uses of each? What are the negative uses of each? Why is it important to know about positive and negative uses?

What can we do as a family to make sure that all the social media we use is safe and used as intended? Describe any changes that might be necessary.

School to Home Resources on Just Because it Disappears


  • Snapchat: True or False? page
  • Snapchat: True or False? Teacher Support Page
  • Writing implements
  • Click Here for “ Snapchat: True or False? ” page

Note: No video accompanies this lesson.



1. Begin session by asking students about their use of social media apps that post pictures and text messages for limited amounts of time such as Snapchat or Burn Note. These are referred to as ‘ephemeral’ sites (ephemeral means lasting a very short time or short-lived).

  • What are some of the facts you know about Snapchat and other ephemeral apps?
  • Why do young people choose to use ephemeral apps?
  • What are their perceptions of why others use them?
  • What is the best thing about using an app where your post disappears in a set amount of time?
  • What is the worst thing about it?
  • What are the dangers of using an ephemeral app?
  • Are these apps safe? Explain.
  • How is your privacy protected within the app?

2. Tell students that they are going to reveal what they know—and might be surprised to learn—about one ephemeral app, Snapchat. Distribute the Snapchat: True or False? page and ask students to work with a partner to respond to each statement on the page.

3. After students have completed the worksheet, gather as a group to discuss their answers. Use the Teacher Support version to provide facts and research about the app.

  • What is the most interesting new fact they learned? Why?
  • How does any of this information affect their use—if at all?
  • How does any of this information change their answers to earlier questions—if at all?
  • Are ephemeral apps safe?
  • What concerns should we have about ephemeral apps?
  • How do ephemeral apps like Snapchat impact our daily lives?

4. Explain that today’s discussion will provide fodder and evidence for the assignment. Opponents of ephemeral apps such as Snapchat and Burn Note have become quite vocal in the news, online, and in community groups; however, teen voices need to be heard in public forums that will be read and/ or heard by all. The students’ task is to write or record a persuasive piece in the form of an editorial or a letter to the editor of a local newspaper OR an opinion piece for a radio station or web-streamed site regarding Snapchat or other ‘ephemeral’ sites. Remind students that good persuasive writing includes:

  • A stated opinion or arguable point
  • Facts
  • Sound, specific reasons
  • Strong examples to support the case
  • Opposing viewpoints with strong rebuttal
  • A conclusion reiterating the writer’s opinion/argument

Determine whether this will be an in-class assignment or completed for homework and follow school writing frameworks.

5. When complete, have students share their work with others in the class. Survey the students to see if they support or oppose the use of ephemeral apps—with or without caveats.


Summarize the themes of the lesson. Close with a discussion of the essential question: How do ephemeral sites like Snapchat impact our daily lives?

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