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'Mom, let's ask Google'

 
Is your child ready to jump into the internet?
By Cath Jenkin

Pic: Diane Cassells

Article originally in Parent24
Growing up, we had a large set of encyclopedias. Yes, really, the big book type, alphabetically indexed and brimming with knowledge – one for each letter of the alphabet. When we had a question, my mom would pull out the appropriate book, direct us to the relevant page and let us find our answers.

Nowadays, with technology encompassing almost every aspect of our life, those bulky encyclopedias are out of date and irrelevant. If I think about it though, I can still smell their musty pages, crammed with answers to my childhood questions.

Searching for answers

In our house though, the situation is quite different. I’m asked questions on a daily basis, from “Mom, why can’t I have a pony?” to “Mom, why does gravity make us stick to the ground?”

There are questions I can answer with ease and then there are questions that leave me flummoxed. I’m known for countering many of them with a quick “Well, what do you think?” when I’m not able to answer the question or it’s something I’m not quite ready to reveal yet. And yes, I have used that line of response to the “Is the Easter Bunny real?” question. I’ll let her come to her own conclusions on that one when the time is right for her.

Just like my mom used to grab those encyclopedias though, I’m known for grabbing my mobile phone when a question I can’t answer arises. I’ve countered questions like “why is the sky blue?” to “are kangaroos the only marsupials” with a simple Google search.

I’m a big believer in empowering children into seeking out answers for themselves so, more often than not nowadays, I get my child to do the search herself. In teaching her about search engines, I explained that you can search for a single word or phrase and the great machine will spit back search results from all over the world that could answer her question. Slowly, as her writing, comprehension and spelling are taking shape, she’s starting to punch those questions into the search bar herself.

Supervision and discernment


Of course, as she grows, she’ll require intense supervision as she explores the Internet but, for now, she’s just doing search engine searches and reading up on answers with my help. I’ll tackle social media another day, in a few years. That’s not an arena she’ll be entering any time soon, if I have my way. (Note – mommy always has her way in this regard. She is the Google Gatekeeper, so to speak).

Not all questions have internet answers...

So, the other day, as we wandered into the lounge and pondered our weekend plans, I said “what should we do today?” and she said “Mom, let’s ask Google”.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What age do you think a child should start using the internet?

 
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