At Playbook we are often asked by overwhelmed parents how they can prevent their children from encountering inappropriate content with the vast amount of information online. There are free tools available that can help prevent exposure to inappropriate material.
There is no substitution for parental oversight, parental supervision at all times is always strongly advised.
Project Playbook compiled a list of popular, reputable search engines to prevent exposure to mature content. Each search tool has been tested using a variety of keywords (e.g. sex, beer, booze, boobs, etc.) anything that may lead to inappropriate materials. The programs were tested for words that are not so obvious but could still yield questionable results. Remember: not all material that could be disturbing to some children is classified as “adult” e.g. footage and images of wars and conflicts, crimes etc. It is a good idea to consistently remind children that if they encounter material online that is “gross” or “scary”, they are to stop viewing it. Equally important is to speak with their parents and then block the site so it does not appear in future search results.
(STOP | BLOCK | TALK).
Please see the safe search tools and descriptions below and enjoy!
Zoodles is a software download (free and easy). It is best suited for younger children (J/K to Grade 4). Of all the options it is the most secure, think of it as a fenced in playground where you have full control on what children can see and access. It features a nice set of parental controls and the interface is clean and user friendly for parents and children alike.
Kidrex is a great search tool for younger children. The built in filter is powerful. In our testing we found that it effectively screened out inappropriate material and despite trying several keywords none of them produced results. The interface is simple and “kid friendly”.
Kiddle is well suited for older children (Grade 5 to 8). It has a great built-in filter, and yet is less restrictive than the tools for younger children and will yield more results. For example, “Beer” produced zero results in the tools for younger children, whereas in Kiddle I found results that described what Beer is made out of and historical events involving it (e.g. Hitler’s “Beer Hall Putsch of 1923”). Great tool for those that love the functionality of Google coupled with the protection of enhanced filters. An added plus is that search results are displayed in large thumbnail format which enhances its visual appeal.
Kidzsearch is another great option for older children as it is less restrictive while still providing filter to restrict access to inappropriate material. We love the interface which features a simple search bar, coupled with short cuts to kid friendly videos, images, and even education games and programs.
Safe Search Kids is fairly similar to Kidzsearch in that it offers a simple search interface and shortcuts to educational materials. We love the short cuts it provides to resources on a variety of online safety and cyber security topics that include; online and social media safety, cyber bullying and more.
Parents should activate “Safe Search” under search settings. Even when it is activated, the filter will not be as restrictive as with the other tools so it is strongly recommended that parent supervise children when using mainstream search engines like this one. Please be aware!