It is becoming increasingly obvious that you can find anything on the internet. Or can you? Have you tried to Google anything lately? There are thousands of hits for just about any topic. Then you have you wade through the sites and information that is not helpful before you find something actually helpful or what you are looking for. So here are some ideas that have helped me narrow my searches and maybe they will help you too.

Oh and what does this have to do with teenagers? Well they believe everything they read on the internet, so you need to have a plan for helping them eliminate the hurtful, unnecessary or down right wrong searches so they can learn to discern the truth too. (This is an obvious overstatement but there’s truth in there too.)


  1. Think just outside the box on things that return way more hits than you can search through. In our context, people tend to look for “problems with teenagers,” or “counseling for teens,” or even “at-risk teenagers.” Just a slight change can be a huge help. One of those changes could be thinking on the positive side. A lot of organizations are trying not to focus on the negative aspect (i.e. “problems, at-risk”). So using positive termS such as “support,” “life skills,” or “parenting help” can return different results that might be more helpful.
  1. Think of technical terms, not the common words people use. This can be a little more difficult if you are not familiar with the terms that could be helpful. However, you can do a search for those things first, like searching “counseling terms” or “student services/programs” and pay attention to the words used in the results. Then use terms you see to do an alternative search. Things like “positive reinforcement” or “alternative discipline,” or for education search “accelerated classes or programs.” These don’t always come to mind because they are not the common words used in our everyday conversation, but they can be a huge help in narrowing your search for the right help.
  1. Don’t hesitate to type full sentences in search. It’s a funny thing to say because I still feel like I have to help Google search for things by typing in just the right thing. The truth is, Google can handle my full sentence much better than I can. In addition, I find that other people who have asked the same question may have posted it on a forum or FAQ and, at times, there is a helpful answer.
  1. YouTube! People post videos about everything. And if they come up at the top of the list, it’s usually because people have actually found them to be helpful – unless they’re being funny or stupid. You can also pay attention to the number of views, but I find a different indicator even more helpful. I look for the length of the video. If someone is not able to explain what they are doing in a video that is less than 10 minutes, it tells me there is too much explanation. Truthfully, I find videos between 1:30-3 minutes long to be the most helpful. I hope these tips are helpful to you too.
  1. Crowdsource it. Use your social media channel (I’ve found Facebook to work best for this, even if you never post anything else) to ask friend for input. Ignore their opinions and use the suggestions for resources they offer, unless of course you know someone really does have insight on the topic or task. Facebook is actually making this even easier by suggestng links to resources when it notices you are talking about places to suggest. This can also be helpful if you tag someone that you know is an expert in the field you are looking for help. Most likely, you will not get a response from the person them self (although this can happen), but people connected to them will see the post and you will expand your crowdsourcing beyond your circle of online friends.


That’s it. What ways have you found to be helpful outside of an old school Google search?

Ricky Lewis is our Executive Director and has been with us since the beginning. As a father of 7, he seeks to help parents and their kids Live Life Better.