Google often functions as the Agony Aunt of our times. Google won’t judge your questions, is available at all hours, and always has potentially relevant answers to the questions no one has to know you’re asking. In this way, it becomes a repository of people’s secret anxieties and desires. And according to Google searches, parents are way preoccupied with their sons’ smarts and their daughters’ looks.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s analysis of Google queries (reported in the Times this weekend) showed that parents are more than twice as likely to inquire is my son gifted?— and more likely to search is my son stupid— than to ask the same questions about their female children. And what are parents wondering about their daughters? Well, parents are more likely to ask whether girls are beautiful or ugly: There are almost twice as many inquiries asking if daughters are overweight than sons. Parents are “are nearly three times more likely to ask whether their daughter is ugly than whether their son is ugly,” writes Stephens-Davidowitz. “How Google is expected to know whether a child is beautiful or ugly is hard to say.”
Parents are also more likely to ask whether their sons are “happy” and if they daughters are “depressed.” Wonder why, inquiring parents. Kids are great at digging through browser histories. Nothing like seeing is my son a genius to put a spring in his step; nothing like seeing daughter lose weight now tips to invite a serious mope.