Apart from getting my teeth bashed in by a hockey stick and that wet-to-the-skin oh-why-did-I-wear-jeans hiking trip through Gatineau Park, it is one of my few vivid memories from eighth grade: Jeremy was, like me, a new student at the school that year. Jeremy, like all boys our age, was curious about female anatomy. So Jeremy did the one thing he knew he could get away with: Giggling all the while, he went to where the Webster’s Dictionary was stationed at the back of the room, looked up the word vagina, and finally solved one of those mysteries that had been perplexing him. In retrospect, I guess he didn’t really solve it, because the dictionary definition was undoubtedly rather drab and technical for a thirteen-year-old mind. It was correct and official but probably rather unsatisfying. Still, it sated him for a time.
Maybe his parents had never had the talk with him. That talk with him. Jeremy’s parents were not alone in skipping it. Some parents could never bear to do it. Some relied on guidance counselors or middle school health teachers. Some, red-faced, handed their kids a book and said, “If you’ve got any questions, just ask.” Jeremy’s natural curiosity led him to do a little research and the resource readily available to him was the dictionary. No harm done. His innocent question was met with an innocent answer.
Times have changed, and yet at the same time, very little has changed. Our children are still curious. Our children still have questions they are uncomfortable asking their parents. But today our children have a whole new way of finding answers.
Today we train our children from a young age that Google is the place to go for answers. Whose is the fourth face on Mount Rushmore? Google it! What kind of reviews is that new movie getting? Google it! When is the next iPod going to be released? Google it! Should I be concerned about that mole on my back? Google it!
One of the facts I’ve learned since writing a book on pornography, and since having the opportunity to write articles for various sites and publications, is that children today are taking their innocent questions to Google and, all too often, receiving decidedly non-innocent answers.