“Respect your parents because they managed to get an education without Google,” says a popular Facebook meme.
Very true in the context of the way education systems are designed today. We have internalized search engines (especially Google) into our lives to such an extent that a number of everyday functions are unthinkable without it—research for kids’ school projects and their pictures, recipes for exotic dishes and where to source the ingredients for experienced cooks, everyday recipes for the beginner—even how to remove a magnetic tag from a shirt I bought, and whose magnetic tag the store checkout people neglected to remove!
Yes, knowledge sharing is a wonderful thing, and our kids can get the full benefit of it, thanks to Google (and other search engines too, but right now Google is the most user-friendly)!
However, the path of knowledge expansion (just like the path of true love) never does run smooth. A few of the bumps along the way: your kid navigating to ‘undesirable’ sites with adult content or other stuff you don’t want her accessing at an impressionable age; the search opening a vast number of sites, most of them irrelevant; the kid being too lazy to spend time on Google because ‘mom or dad will do it anyway, and do it faster’ (my kid used to be like this, until I took steps to address the situation).
Here are some tips from a parent and researcher to help you if you are up against any of these problems:
1. Install Parental Controls
The good news is that Google has provided parental controls for virtually every feature your kids might want to access, from search engines (both Crome and Crome Beta) to YouTube and Google Play. Once you install these features in all your devices—they are available for PC, Cromebook, iPad, android—you can let a big load of anxiety slide off your shoulders. Most apps are free and user-friendly. Easy to download and easy to install, and presto! You’re sorted! Here’s a useful site to read up in detail about them and get the links you need.
2. Show Them Simple Navigation Tips And Tricks
I’ll never forget the day when, as a Google beginner, I searched ‘Paris’ (for the story ‘Judgement of Paris’ for my neice) and ended up with a zillion glamorous pictures of Paris Hilton! Or, searching for ‘stroma’ (to understand the results of an ultrasound), navigated to tens of sites for ovarian cancer!
The results of Google search for the uninitiated can be funny, or scary, or simply plain confusing! And you really can’t blame a kid who is trying to search stuff for her school project—at the last minute, as they all invariably do—for throwing up her hands in despair and pin her hopes upon cribbing from the project of the class topper (who is an alien and does all his project impeccably, well in time)!
Well, help is at hand now, with this useful site, which shows you simple tips and tricks to use Google most effectively and accurately. Simple things like an asterisk (*), comma (,), plus (+) and minus (-) signs at strategic places in your search can narrow things down and give you exactly what you want in a jiffy!
And now, to deal with the lazy kid!
3. Stop Bailing Him Out At The Last Moment
Today we, as parents, tend to overcompensate our kids for being able to spend less time with them and pamper them beyond what is good for them. We often give them readymade answers and solutions, thus removing any need for them to find answers for themselves. Or else, not having the time to monitor their work till the last moment, we take over and give him the solution on a platter.
This is a destructive behaviour pattern which has to be broken in the best interests of the child. Give the procrastinating child a firm, final warning that if he pushes his assignment to the eleventh hour, he will have to stay up and complete it himself—and steel yourself to stick to the decision. If he still doesn’t do it, banking upon previous experiences of emotional blackmail, let him be late in submitting his work and get a downgrade. The life lesson your kid will learn from it is well worth a couple of downgraded assignments and temporarily figuring as a villain to your child!
On your part, make your child’s work your priority and make sure he does his project and assignment searches himself. If you do, absolutely, need to step in, make a conscious effort to just guide, and not do the work yourself.
4. Use Google With Your Kid For Everyday Things
Sometimes, more than laziness, the problem is that your kid may have made a subconscious connection between schoolwork and Google, which has created a mind block against Googling. A creative and effective way to deal with this is to take the ‘compulsion factor’ out of net search. Pick an area your child is most interested in. It could be his favourite sport, a handicraft, food (this is pretty universal, especially cakes and chocolates), or an online sale on some coveted gadget or game. Google it together, gradually encouraging him to take more and more initiative. After a successful search the first few times, reward him by making the food item whose recipe he has googled, or buying (within reason) something for which he has figured out the best price online. Very soon you’ll have to prise him off Google with a blunt knife!
5. A Little Trickery For The Especially Stubborn Ones
Some kids are lazier than others—or maybe, their fears are deeper rooted. They might surf willingly with you, yet still be unwilling to do it on their own. For them, a little trickery often works wonders. It becomes especially easy during the festival season. Ask your child if she would like to help you make chocolates/ her favourite cakes/ cookies/snacks at home. I dare you to find a kid who refuses. Discuss when and how you will make it, how you will package it or serve it, etc. When her curiosity and anticipation is thoroughly piqued, tell her you are running a little busy, but would still do it if you had the recipe and ingredients ready to hand. I don’t say this is foolproof, but from my experience, nine out of ten kids will, at this point, volunteer to Google the recipe and where to locate the ingredients. Voila!
The point is, parenting often involves harmless little deceptions to teach your kid basic skills, and how to Google is certainly one of them in this day and age!
picture credit: http://seanvandenberg.com/