“How can I help my kid learn how to use Google?”

From the mailbag:

"Dear MamaBear,

My kids will be starting middle school soon, and I want to give them a good edge. Knowing how to find stuff online is the first step, I think. I've heard that you can use Google in ways that aren't well-known…do you know anything about that?

Thank you,

Anon"

Dear A,

Ah!

A question MamaBear loves!

Anything that requires kids to actually *think* when researching online warms the cockles of me heart, it surely does.

Yes, there are many many ways you can use Google that mere mortals never consider.

Google gives you advanced search operators including:

  • site: – this allows you to limit your searching from within a specific site, say, cnn.com or mamabear.me or *.edu etc.
  • intitle: – this lets you search for web pages that have specific words in the title tag
  • filetype: – this allows you to find specific files online, ie, search for ebooks in pdf, search for pngs of pictures and the like.

You can do far far more, of course!

Here's some of the best places to master Google:

The above should definitely get your kid searching in the right direction!

Thus speaks…MamaBear

Smart Mommy, Daddy & Parent Bloggers, Kids … and Google Circles

Brief, pithy and to the point….

Have you heard of Google Circles?

It's Google's attempt social networking to kill off Facebook, and from what MamaBear has seen…it sure will give them a run for their money!

I wrote an indepth article about it over at my business blog, 17 Awesome Quick Simple How-To Resources and Tutorial on Google Circles.   I definitely encourage you to learn more and sign up asap!

But over here at my MamaBear site, I'd like to delve a wee bit further into this topic as it applies to fellow Mommy/Daddy/parent bloggers and our kids.

The thing I love about Google Circles is that it lets you segregate your network into specific groups (ie, friends, family, fellow moose wranglers, coupon experts, etc.etc.etc.).  And yes, I do know that Facebook lets you do the same.

But!

Google Circles makes it super super SUPER easy to message *solely* those people without jumping thru huge amounts of hoops.

This is what sells it for me!

Let's apply this to our niche now, fellow mommy bloggers and our kids.

We can make Google Circles like so.

  • Immediate family
  • Attendees to BlogHer
  • Coupon divas
  • SEO experts
  • Business colleagues
  • Homeschooling parents
  • Weight Loss buddies
  • Our kids' teachers

And that's only the first wave of ideas.

I won't duplicate my other post here – simply mosey on over to 17 Awesome Quick Simple How-To Resources and Tutorial on Google Circles and see all the goodies will offer you.

If you're a bonafide smart parent….you'll brush up on Google Circles and see how it can help your day-to-day life and business operations.

I know I am!

Parent powerfully,

— MamaBear

ps – want to network with me?  Find me over at http://gplus.to/mamabearmother !

Immediately Protect Your Teen Children By Bursting The Dangerous Internet Filter Bubble

<yawn><stretch><growl>

Well hello there!

You caught Mama Bear after she's been awake now since 4am, powerfully hacking up her site to add ever more goodies for you.  Today, for example, I just finished adding a new tasty Fitness Store – do feel free to check it out whenever you'd like!

But that's not the topic of today's post, no oh no!  Instead, MamaBear insists on asking you this question.

Ready?

Alrighty then, tell me.

Is content you *need* to know….being withheld not only from you, but your children as well?

I present for your delection: The Internet Filter bubble.  Do make sure to watch it in its entirety…it's utterly fascinating.

Is that scary or what?????

Now, for brilliant parents like us, that's one thing.  We all have the ability to learn just how to uncover where the news is that we really need.

But…what about our kids?

I'm all for filtering out inappropriate material, of course.

But imagine the following…

  • What if your teen, when searching on "diversity", gets shown results replete with political correctness *only*?
  • What if your teen, when searching on "gay", gets shown results that glorify gay-bashing?
  • What if your teen, when searching on "sex", gets shown results that highlight double-standards?
  • What if….

See what Mama Bear means?

It's one thing for our kids to get messages shoved down their throats by their peers.

It's another thing entirely to have Internet search results mimic those peers!

(derived from the types of links your kid generally clicks on etc.).

So what *are* some of the signals Google uses to determine what kind of content to show?

They could include:

  1. where do we move the mouse and mark text in the search results
  2. amount of typos while searching
  3. how often do we use related search queries
  4. how often do we use autosuggestion
  5. how often do we use spell correction
  6. distribution of short / general  queries vs. specific / long tail queries
  7. which other google services do we use (gmail / youtube/ maps / picasa /….)
  8. how often do we search for ourselves

(got that list over at  What are the 57 signals google uses to filter search results?)

Now….

Think about your children now.

  • Think about their spelling ability. 
  • Their search ability. 
  • What they click on *most* from their peers.

When they *are* ready to be exposed to new ideas and thinking…will Google and Facebook deliver to them that opportunity?

Or will they be continually walled into their own tiny Internet Bubble?

It's something on which to think, aye?

Which brings me now to the question….

How on earth can you protect your teen children from missing out on knowledge?

It's tough, I'll tell you that!  But if you have a good relationship with your kids, you can run the following test with them:

  • Step 1.)  Have them search on an emotionally-charged topic on their computer.  Bullying, diversity, gay rights, etc.  Take a snapshot (Hypersnap is a nice free utility).
  • Step 2.)  Then do the same search on your computer.  Take another snapshot.
  • Step 3.)  Then do the same search on Facebook.  Take a third snapshot.

Then sit down and compare the results!

If your kids are anything like Mamabear's cubs, they'll *hate* the idea that Big Brother is telling them what it thinks they *should* know.

Use this as a lesson to reinforce that alternative opinions will always exist, and that wise people take the time to see *all* sides. 

In other words, don't take the Internet search results at face value….always encourage your kids to use their brains as well.

Their future growth will thank them for it.

Parent well,

Mama Bear

ps – want other great takes on the Internet Filter bubble?  Check out:

and you can get the book too over at: