Screenshots: what you need to know

Screenshotting is when someone takes a copy of their screen and stores it as a picture. This means that messages and images which are thought to have been sent privately can be recorded and shared without the sender knowing. It’s important to make your child aware of the risks of screenshotting.

Anything on a screen can be screenshotted. This includes apps like Snapchat which allow you to send a photo, video or message that ‘disappears’ after a certain amount of time. 

There are different ways to screenshot depending on the make of your phone or tablet. For example:

  • iPhone: hold down the lock button and home button at the same time. The screen will flash as if you have taken a picture and the screen-shot will be stored in your picture library. Apple’s recent upgrade also allows you to record anything on your phone by pressing the ‘record’ button on the control page on some phones. 
  • Samsung: hold down the power button and the home button. The image will be stored in your picture library. 

What are the risks?

Screenshotting means that images and messages can be stored and shared with others, without the sender knowing about it. This can play a role in bullying where pictures, messages and videos can be used against the sender. 

We also know that screenshotting is sometimes used in sexting incidents, where a young person has shared a sexual image with someone else. That person can then screenshot the image, and share it on. It’s important for young people to be aware that taking, storing and sharing sexual images of someone under 18 is illegal, even if the image is of themselves. You can read more about sexting here.

Can screenshotting be helpful?

Whilst there are risks, screenshotting can be helpful sometimes. For example, it can be used to record evidence of online abuse or bullying to show teachers or parents. 

However, screenshots should not be used to record evidence of sexting, as taking a screenshot means you are creating a sexual image of a child, which is illegal. This page has information about what you can do about sexting. 

How can you keep your child safe? 

Talk to your child - make sure your child understands that people can screenshot their messages, even when they think they’re having a private conversation. Remind them that they can speak to you if anything upsetting ever happens to them online. This page has lots of advice for talking to your child about online safety. 

Call our free helpline - the O2 NSPCC Online Safety Helpline can answer any questions about apps, sites or games and about online safety in general. You can call them on 0808 800 5002.