We all had weird questions growing up.
As a parent, my first reaction to that is revulsion. “Oh my god, what are the children doing while they’re unsupervised?!” But, the more I think about it, the more I’m glad that my own daughter will have the ability to make those searches.
I hope she comes to me (or, more accurately, my wife) but if I'm being realistic, I know she might not want to.
Yes, there is a lot of horrible, horrific material on the internet (and porn is not a good sex ed instructor), but I don’t think we always appreciate that it also provides almost limitless context to kids who might have no other way to get answers to their questions.
Because we ALL had weird, embarrassing questions that needed answering when we were adolescents, but tools like Google and other search engines actually make it possible for shy kids to get occasionally thoughtful, intelligent answers to their deepest, darkest questions.
Let’s look at something semi-innocent — “how to kiss” someone.
My first kiss TERRIFIED me. Was I supposed to use my tongue? What was I supposed to do with my lips? Was I supposed to swallow my spit beforehand or was it useful lubrication during the act itself? I was a mess.
But who was I supposed to ask for advice on kissing? It’s a weird question. I couldn’t ask my mom, my friends had about as much experience as I did. And what if I found someone who actually knew what they were talking about? Was I supposed to practice on them? Or sit five feet away while they kissed someone else to show me? No way.
However, kids today can actually go on YouTube and, if they’re scared of a first kiss, they can watch some well-produced, interesting instructional videos that are tailor-made for weird kids with questions. Are there bad videos out there? Sure. But videos like this are GREAT:
And this one:
And this one:
In the old days, the only thing I would’ve had to show me what kissing looked like was porn, which, yeah, isn’t exactly ideal material for a 14-year-old looking to sneak a smooch at his high school homecoming.
Those videos were produced with largely altruistic intentions. Their creators thought “how do I honestly advise someone on how to kiss a girl or a boy?” And they made something to help.
But it’s not just videos. If a kid is more of a reader, they can find articles like this online, which answers the “how to kiss” question seriously. Which just seems like an invaluable resource when I think back to my own adolescence.
I was so confused and had so many questions, but, again, my only resources for kissing, cuddling, and sex questions were either people I knew or porn, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask people I knew what “fingering” meant.
But Google and the internet aren’t just vital for instructional material.
They also provide information on a whole host of topics that I wish I’d had more context on when I was in my teen years.
For example, in college, I briefly dated a girl who was a “cutter.” That term is widely known nowadays, but when I was younger, I’d never heard of it, and I had no easy way to research it.
So the girl I was dating would cut herself, blaming herself and me occasionally, and I sat there thinking, “Oh wow. I have no idea what to do. I can’t believe that this girl does this thing that no one else in the world does.”
Of course, that was dumb. Tons of people resort to cutting, but I didn’t know that. Now, if a similar teenager is placed in that situation today, one little Google search on "cutting" will direct them to definitions, support groups, advice columns — they would know they’re not alone immediately AND they’d have tons of options for moving forward in the most intelligent way possible.
And that even applies to kissing! Isn’t that crazy? You type in “how do I kiss someone” and you can actually find out. No judgment, no need to explain yourself. Just here you go.
It’s not always perfect, but I wish I had Google when I was a teenager. I would’ve made my confusing teen years a little less confusing and a lot more informed.
And maybe I would've know how to kiss when I actually tried.