In the fall of 2012, Sally Ike, a senior at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., heard from a friend about a hilarious new app you could download on your smartphone. Snapchat was free, her friend explained, and allowed you to share photos. And like a lot of photo apps, it was simple: just shoot and send. The hook was that when your friend opened the message, the photo self-destructed within 10 seconds.
At first, Ike thought Snapchat was pretty dumb. She was applying for college, co-editing the high school newspaper, and playing on the ultimate Frisbee team. She was busy. Snapchat seemed pointless. Yet as the fall semester turned into winter, Snapchat grew more and more popular at Columbia High. All day at school “snaps” were flying in every direction. Kids loved to send them back and forth in class. Some teachers banned smartphones during instruction, so you had to be careful. But if you cupped your phone in your palm under the desk with the screen facing up at you, it was no problem.