As parents in the information age, we have lots of tools at our disposal when it comes to doing what’s best for our kids. Before they are even born, we surf baby name sites to find one that will ensure they stand out but not too far out. We go online to research the best cribs and car seats before we choose one. And we are alerted instantly when they are recalled. We read what the experts and other parents think about the educational value of the books, toys and games we are considering purchasing for our kids.
Going online for parenting information has become so automatic that it’s no surprise that the first thing many of us do when our child shows symptoms of an illness is to turn to Dr. Google. But as Jennifer Gruden writes in an article titled “Anxiety in the Age of Google,” that is where information and insanity often meet.
Gruden shares her story of how Dr. Google nearly drove her round the bend when her son became ill soon after being exposed to an exploded can of tomato paste. While the chances that her 4-year-old had contracted botulism were slim, the very possibility was enough to turn this otherwise sane woman into a frantic mess. In the end, her son was not seriously ill and was back to normal within a few days. Her own recovery took a bit longer.
While her story is dramatic, colored by the tragic loss of another child after something that rarely happens did happen, it is no doubt being repeated at this very moment in front of computer screens everywhere. Several years ago, I myself spent two sleepless nights worried about my 7-year-old after an alarming Dr. Google diagnosis. And this was after we’d seen a real doctor and received a much less scary one.
To be sure, sometimes Googling your child’s symptoms can lead to a life-saving discovery. But that’s probably about as common as contracting botulism from an exploded can of tomato paste.
Image: Danard Vincente/Flickr
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