Google Owns You!

                                                                                                                                                                                  Photo Credit: The First Born

Not really, but sort of! They decide what you look at, how you look at it and in what manner you look at it.  How many times do find that you just “Google it” scroll down and pick one of the first 5 hits as your source of information?  Come on, I know you have! We all have, it’s just second nature now.

Well, all those fine folks at Google and other search and social media sites have us figured out. They know where we are, what we like, what device we use, how old we are, what culture we come from, and use all of that information to give us what they think we want.  I know you’re thinking, “HEY! That’s not fair! I want to be able to choose what information I am given.” It’s sad but it’s true.  Check out this Ted Talk Video.

Creepy right? *que scary movie music* Well, I just had to see for myself. So I sent  a text to my friend and said, “ Google puppies and take a picture of your results” without question ( which is why I love her) she did and sent me this .IMG_2168-1

Aww, how sweet! So I Googled “Puppies” and got this.

IMG_2147 WHAAAAATTT?  I mean, I have voiced my opinion on puppy mills a time or two, but it’s not like I’m a vigilante or anything.I am a huge fan of cute puppy videos. I want cute puppy videos!  This was a prime example of how we are in our own,  as Eli Pariser said, “filter bubble” .

So how are we supposed to find the correct information from credible sources and document it properly?  How are we supposed to teach our students to do the same thing? As teachers it is our job to become knowledge constructors, where students are able to gather information and think critically to solve problems using 21st century tools in a meaningful way.  Students need instruction on how to search properly, realized what is credible or what is fake, and how to document it all properly.

There are many ways to teach students online safety and to search using critical thinking.  BE INTERNET AWESOME is a wonderful curriculum for younger students to become a model digital citizen. Using the BIG6 ideas, you can help your students use critical thinking to solve problems using technology. It is the most widely used approach in schools.

Another way, is to provide them with proper searching skills. Students need to know that Wikipedia is not a credible source and why. It is essentially the virtual version of a playground education. “Mom, Jimmy told me at second recces that if you swallow your gum and burp three times your head will explode! It’s so true! “ Wikipedia even says so! It’s a good place to start to get general knowledge on a topic but there always has to be more.  Google (ohh beware 🙂 has several “tricks of the trade” that you can use to help your students find multiple credible sources.

Once you have gone through how to search, offering a search engine that is safe and appropriate and will pass “The 9 Year Old Boy Test” is just as important. Just think what a 9 year old will search for? Yep, you want a search engine that will turn BUTT into articles on the life cycle of a BUTTERFLY or FART into articles on proper nutrition. There are several out that that are wonderful resources. They have articles chosen by educators or use Google Safe Search technology, are age and reading level appropriate, and direct the students to credible sources.  This is a list of my favorite sites.

Now you know ways to help you and your students become knowledge constructors.  Teaching proper search skills, ways to recognize “fake” news and sites, and ways to break free from search engines and social media limiting their choices of information will prepare our students for a successful academic future. Remember,  don’t let Google own you…. OWN GOOGLE!


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