Remember when your kids would come to you with every question they had and they’d lap up your wisdom like hungry puppies? Those days are gone. Today, the majority of children would rather ask Google their pressing questions than mom or dad.
Yep, that’s what a new study conducted by Birmingham Science City in the UK, just found. Of children 6-15, 54% said they’d ask Google before mom, dad, or a teacher. Put a little differently, only 25% percent of kids that age said they’d ask mom or dad before Google.
I’m not sure this is all bad. It shows that our kids are making good use of the technologies that are available to them. (Interestingly—at least to anyone over 25—the same study found that 45% of kids have never used a print encyclopedia about 20% have never used a printed dictionary.)
But even old-school tech like encyclopedias and dictionaries did better than teachers: Only three percent of kids 6-15 said they’d turn to a teacher for an answer before Google.
But what concerns me is the potential distancing between parents and children that is almost inevitable when they stop coming to us. And that means that as our kids get older we’re going to have to try even harder to make sure we have regular family face time. In families that have meals together at least a few times a week, the kids do better in school and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. It’s the human contact that does it, the hand on the shoulder, the hugs, the smiles. Sending your child a text asking whether he’s done his homework is not a substitute.
The good news is that whether they ask Google first or not, our kids still need us. Google can’t drive them to violin lessons or the movies (but that might not be true for long—have you seen Google’s driverless car?) And Google can’t coach their soccer teams, make their lunches, teach them how to build a campfire or be a shoulder to cry on when a pet dies or a relationship ends.