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How do teens really use Instagram, Snapchat and other apps?

Louie Swisher, son of Kara, teaches his mom on the state of the app.

Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

On most episodes of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode answer your questions about consumer tech with an expert guest in tow. This week, they brought in two experts to talk about teens and tech: The Verge’s Casey Newton, plus actual-teen/Kara’s actual older son, Louie Swisher.

Like mother like son — Louie minced no words when the hosts quizzed him on everything from Snapchat streaks to whether anyone his age uses Facebook Messenger.

“I have the app downloaded,” he said. “I sometimes accidentally open it.”

Swisher admitted he does use Facebook Messenger sometimes, but only because his school’s lacrosse team has different types of phones.

“Some people have Androids and they’re not fun to have in text group chats because they ruin it,” he said. “They make every message green and you can’t add people. So we just use it as a mode of communication, but it’s still kind of annoying because I just don’t like Facebook.”

However, he said he loves Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and would, in fact, choose it over Snapchat if he had to get rid of one of the apps.

“Snapchat, the only real thing that I care about is talking to people and you can do that on Instagram by direct messaging, or DM’ing, them,” Swisher said. “I can see what people are up to, I can look at funny things. Instagram is my favorite app.”

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On the new podcast, the group also answered your questions about other apps aimed at teens and phenomena like “finstas” — private friends-only Instagram accounts.

“People have an Instagram for what they want people to see and then they have a ‘finsta’ for what they want their friends to see,” Louie Swisher said. “I never use my finsta, but a lot of people do a lot — it’s where they post silly videos and stuff.”

“So, wait, you have another Instagram that I don’t know about?” his mother interjected.

“Yeah, you tried to follow it, and then I didn’t accept your request.”

When asked about apps that adults may be less familiar with — such as, Houseparty and — Swisher said he didn’t see them having the staying power among his friend groups that those app makers probably would like to see.

“ and Houseparty both had a short life, I think,” he said. “, you can record yourself singing and stuff and do dancing video, and people in my class liked it a lot, and then all of a sudden they didn’t.”

“I think I know what it is,” he added of “I’ve seen ads of it on YouTube, and it’s just attractive people dancing. It’s a livestreaming service, I know that, but it looks like something you might find ... on another part of the internet.”

Have questions about teens and tech that we didn’t get to in this episode? Tweet them to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed, or email them to

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