It’s Called WWW for a Reason

Posted by: Dawn Schell on April 17, 2014 10:50 am

Public. Permanent. Searchable

These are not the words youth associate with their online lives.   And yet, they are exactly the words they ought to think of.

Wired magazine has an excellent article on the privacy talk all parents need to have with their children.   As the authors say, “Parents across the globe today — from Lagos to Los Angeles and from Myanmar to Moscow — need to have a new conversation with their kids….It’s something new, something parents never considered as a critical issue 20 or 10 or even 5 years ago — but something that is just as pervasive as any of the other issues in their children’s lives and, in so many ways, just as important.  It’s data permanence. How can we preserve our reputations in the digital era?”[1]

A very important question indeed.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a talk by Darren Laur of Personal Protection Systems (  He spoke to students about internet safety and digital citizenship.  It was a whirlwind two-hour talk about how we all have a “digital dossier” that is public, permanent and searchable.  He shared statistics about the percentages of post-secondary institutions, employers and landlords who are searching our dossiers and making decisions about what they see.  Decisions such as:  not hiring, not offering scholarships, not renting.

Mr. Laur talked about (supposedly) anonymous chat sites and messaging apps as well as the more frequently used Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  The main thrust of his message was – anything we post online is Permanent.  We may think we have deleted it or we may think that the system we are using doesn’t keep the files and yet, it can be found and retrieved.

It was a huge reminder to think before you post.  Because you have no idea who will see it or how or when that post could come back to haunt you.


Dawn M. Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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