Tip #28 Add Google to Kids’ Chores

Mar 06

I am a firm believer of chores for kiddos. I hated doing them as a child, and the good Lord knows, I did plenty of ‘em. Among my four siblings and I, we easily clocked in about five hours of chores on a weekly basis. In fact, it is precisely because I hated them so much that I realize their importance.

I knew over the years that the best way to complete chores was to just get’er done as soon as possible. That way I could carry on, burden-free, with what I really wanted to do (like read Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters). Furthermore, I wholeheartedly agree with the principals behind chores – you enjoy living in this house, you need to contribute to its upkeep. And, yes, I do pay an allowance in the same way I was paid a stipend for my torturous hours of household duty.

Now that the digital revolution has moved beyond the thrills of being new and exciting, families such as mine have come to recognize some computer tasks as laborious, thankless, and a royal pain in the butt. The novelty of switching on the iPad or laptop to search Google has worn off like the silver coating on a cheap mood ring. In other words, digital sleuthing has become almost as much a chore as running errands (albeit, a very lazy way of running errands).

Questions like: what time does the store open? Where is the hockey game? How much does that video game cost at Wal-mart? require a trip to the closest screen where somebody must type in the requisite topic (sans typos). Furthermore, it is almost always delegated to Mom or Dad, not one of the kids, whose specialty is in video games and YouTube videos, right?

Think again. Kids, as much as adults, need to familiarize themselves with the navigation of the internet. In the very near future, digital tools will be the only vehicles to uncover basic information. When was the last time you looked up a business in the yellow pages? (My kids don’t even know what the yellow pages are.) Based on a recent survey by Media Awareness Network Digital literacy is surprisingly low among kids. They lack basic searching skills and have little or no ability to think critically about the website content they come across.

Why is this? I would venture to say that part of the blame lies in us, the parents. Many of us stifle their online freedoms for fear that little Sally will encounter inappropriate content (of which there is an abundance). However, that excuse can be quite easily refuted when one considers the variety of internet filters available today (including many free options).

I’d always assumed my kids, who are no stranger to the screen, were perfectly capable in any online pursuit. So, I was flabbergasted when I read the survey. Unwilling to believe it, myself, I put my 11-year-old son to the test. One particularly frustrating morning, as I meandered through unknown streets, I asked him to look up an address on my iPhone’s GPS. He was clueless. Later that morning, when I drove him to the wrong location for his hockey practice, and shoved my iPhone at him to find out the correct arena (as I peeled out of the parking lot), he was, again, no help to me. And, this is a kid who owns an iPod Touch.

The survey results proved correct, even in my own household where ownership of Apple products was ridiculously high. Sure, they could find their favourite video games and click from one moronic YouTube celebrity video to the next, but they were incapable of basic online sleuthing skills. The kind of ability that every citizen in the Western hemisphere who wishes to participate in society needs in order to thrive.

I have decided that I will no longer be the “go-to” person to look up times, dates, or locations on my laptop every time a question of that nature arises in our home. Instead, I will encourage (read: command) my oldest son to pry his eyes from whatever zombie he’s shooting on a screen and perform the task, himself. Yes, I am bound to experience more groans, eye-rollings, and “Why can’t you do it, Mom?” replies. But, he will eventually acquire the skills necessary to sift through the loads of online crap to find the golden nugget of information we need. And, I will kindly tell him, as I do when he is forced to practice guitar, load the dishwasher, or get dressed for yet another practice, “You’ll thank me for this one day.”


Did you like this post? Get the latest posts in your email - .

Share your thoughts!