My daughters have discovered a new activity – using the microphone feature on Google to ask it questions. It started out innocently enough after they heard me ask Google what the weather was going to be the next day. Curiosity struck them and they wanted to find out what else Google could tell them, particularly when it answered their questions aloud. Of course, my five-year-old was the first to attempt to tell a joke to Google and was highly amused by the answer to the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?

The activity seemed harmless and I really didn’t think much of it at the time. A few days later, we were in the car and one of my daughters pointed out something unusual that they saw and asked me what it was. Instead of being disappointed that I didn’t know the answer that same silly five-year-old quickly piped up and suggested that we ask Google to find the answer for us.

That short car ride has made me wonder a lot about the kinds of questions that my children are asked at school and that we ask them at home. Is it a good question if they can just pull up the answer in Google? Is their utility in having them memorize things if they can just look it up? On the other hand, are we making them overly dependent on a resource that they can’t access when the power goes out?

Perhaps, I am a little bit too hung up on how they answer a question. If I step back a little bit, what I really want them to develop are the skills to seek out answers and the drive to be willing to look harder for those answers if they don’t come immediately. I want them to figure out the difference between when tasks someone else for the answer (or something else like Google) and went to figure it out on their own.

It could be one of the most important lessons they ever learn.