THE BLOG
04/19/2013 12:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2013

The Jodi Arias, Anthony Weiner and Snapchat Guide to Creating Lasting Digital Memories

Phone sex conversations emerged between Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias, the woman charged with his murder. Jodi recorded and kept these conversations with a goal in mind, which we will likely not know.

In our 24/7 digital world, simple activities such as a phone conversation, a digital photograph and a text message can go very wrong. In our tech world, assume everything you do will be saved, photographed and kept on file.

Facebook has more than 240 billion photos on file for safekeeping.

Jodi Arias also allegedly tried to delete self-incriminating photos from Travis Alexander's camera. Jodi learned the hard way: Digital files are not really deleted from a flash drive by clicking "delete." Technology exists to undo deleted files.

On a positive note, you can restore accidentally deleted files or photos using the same technology, even if your computer hard drive crashes.

Consider the case of Snapchat, the iPhone texting app that lets teens send self-destructive texts to each other. After a specified number of seconds, the text message disappears forever.

But wait! No, the message does not disappear forever if you know the simple iPhone trick of taking a screen capture by pressing the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time. As such, the text -- or more likely, the sext message -- can be safe guarded for posterity in your photo gallery.

Is this an important issue? Well, SnapChat sees 150 million messages sent per day.

Many teens and adults have learned the hard way that sending a sext message can cause legal, political and family challenges. Disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York resigned in June 2011 due to a sexting scandal. Mr. Weiner sent a Twitter message to a 21-year old women with a link to a sexually suggestive picture of himself. That Tweet and picture were kept on file.

Last month, police responded to a case of two high school girls in Ridgewood, N.J. that sent two male classmates naked photos of themselves via Snapchat. The boys took a screen capture of the nude photo and posted it on Instagram.

These days, everyone has a smartphone and digital camera in hand. You must be careful to behave in public and in private because your actions can be recorded at all times and in all places.

Parents should talk with their kids about good digital behavior and the unforgiving consequence of posting an inappropriate pic. Kids don't think about future consequences. Photos and info are posted without thought of propriety or audience.

Instagram and Flickr are examples of social networks that exist with images and photos as the medium. Vine and YouTube use video. Snapchat is about disposable texting.

The following suggestions can help keep kids and their pics safer on social networks:

  • Use an appropriate profile photo; inappropriate pics get the wrong attention.

  • Remove all inappropriate photos. Period.
  • Only allow responsible friends to tag your child in photos.
  • Talk with your child about the right and wrong pictures to post online.
  • Don't disclose birthday, full name, address, cell phone, home phone, school name, pet name, or sibling names.
  • Limit who can send messages to your child and don't let everyone have access (sexual predators begin with this type of access).
  • Increase the privacy setting of your child's profile; only let friends (or friends of friends) see personal info, including pics
  • Monitor your child's friends by setting up lists with different privacy settings.
  • Parents need a cursory understanding of the complex, virtual world in which we live in order to provide guidance. Don't let a stranger educate your child the hard way about such technologies.

    To help, there are software tools to monitor a child's activities, friends, and photos on Facebook. There are tools to manage apps on a child's smartphone or tablet. There are tools to monitor the web sites a child browses. Go to sources of info such as ZDNet, Top Ten Reviews, or CNET. Or, send me a note.