The Social Life of Screenshots: the Power of Visibility in Teen Friendship Groups – New Media & Society – article

The Social Life of Screenshots: the Power of Visibility in Teen Friendship Groups

Victoria Jaynes | New Media & Society

2019-10-22

Taking a screenshot, an exact duplication of the content on the screen of a device, is a taken-for-granted practice. Through an analysis of ethnographic data, this article considers the everyday use of screenshots among teenagers. I examine the taking, possession, and circulation of screenshots among teens to ask: What is screenshot? What function do they have? and How are screenshots significant beyond teens? The article draws attention to the ‘social life’ that screenshots have beyond their duplicative function. Screenshots were framed by teens as an everyday aspect of digital communication that are integral to negotiating hierarchies of friendship, power, and for establishing peer trust. This article takes screenshots seriously in their own right, drawing on existing insights from feminist media studies to demonstrate how the visibility afforded by screenshots is gendered in practice. This article explores screenshots as powerful communicative tools and as a socio-cultural phenomenon worthy of further interrogation.

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