Recently there have been a number of online publications using the Google search platform’s autocomplete tool to draw conclusions about what people are searching for and why.
The way it works is as follows: as you are typing a search query, if you have autocomplete turned on, Google will suggest completing your search string with queries that have been most popular with other Google users.
Let’s take a look at some search queries pertaining to teens, the internet and social media, and the autocomplete results that parents might find of interest.
Why is cyberbullying…
The queries related to cyberbullying clearly indicate that there is a significant awareness of the problem. There is no way of knowing whether it is adults of minors who are using the search terms at right, but the questions behind them are of such a basic nature that it seems clear that people need more cyberbullying information.
Ask.fm is a Q&A social network notorious for a high percentage of teen users and an epidemic of cyberbullying. The site has been linked to a number of teen suicides. Chief among the controversies surrounding Ask.fm is that users can either use their real name or be anonymous, an the bullies tend to stay anonymous. The site has recently gotten a little more user friendly, which is evident from the search queries, but just the fact that two of the top five queries relate to anonymity confirm that this is still a hot button issue.
Do college admissions…
This one is interesting. Despite survey data that indicate about one third of college admissions professionals use the internet and social media to vet applicants, some schools have been vocal of late stating that they do not do so. The search queries at right point to the fact that either teens or parents are concerned enough about the question (Facebook, social media) to resort to a Google search. Good for them.
The amount of information that Google collecting is scary, but there are times that parents can use it to their advantage. If you want a snapshot of why your teen may be using some social network or app, or whether you should be concerned, you might want to let Google autocomplete tell you what other people are searching for.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.