GoGooligans?? A no go.

hey kid, click here when your parents or teachers aren't looking
I have to admit, I haven’t been keeping up on search tools for kids. So when a colleague popped GoGooligans into my del.icio.us account I thought I’d take a look.

The first thing that I noticed was a note saying they were keeping track of all my searches and matching it to my IP address. Supposed to scare our kids into behaving? I don’t know, it probably would have worked on me as a 5 year old, but that was a different era and at that age I remember thinking the police were going to arrest me for breaking a light bulb so I’m not a good judge of how paranoid the average child is these days. I suspect a lot less so than I was.

Overcoming the 5 year old in me, I trotted out the old “mars explorer”, “breast cancer”, “essex county” and gloversville searches. All but gloversville were blocked. So “love” is finally an ok word, that used to get blocked by filters too. But no hope for the kid wanting to know something about breast cancer, exploring mars or even about the geography or economy of Essex County.

I continued on to the version for older students. It has a nice drop down box to let students select from over 30 specific news, encyclopedia and other reference type sites. That’s very handy. But still a search for “breast cancer” limited to the WebMD site was blocked. Totally counterproductive.

And finally the thing that left me with a totally creeped out, queasy feeling? A link that says “hey kid … click this button when your parents or teacher aren’t looking!!!” Which does a popup box saying “Your parents or teacher may not be watching you right now. BUT WE ARE. So stay on task, study hard and be a good student. Strive to be successful.”

So, I’m not a parent of young children, maybe I’d like this search engine if I were. But I think I’d be using Yahoo Kids with them instead.

What are some other tools that people are using with younger kids these days?

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6 Responses to GoGooligans?? A no go.

  1. Ed Schmidt says:

    Thanks Polly for the constructive criticism. Have you ever been driving along, maybe a little fast, and seen on of those signs that says your speed is being electronically monitored and a big LED sign flashes your current speed? Most people would probably slow down knowing that there’s not an actual human checking your speed. The same is true for kids and searching. Kids that don’t care will still search for sex, breasts or whatever….most kids of elementary to middle school age will feel a little hesitant about searching for something that might lead them to a porn site knowing that they’re being monitored.

    If a kid can search for breast cancer, what keeps them from searching for “big breasts”, “hot breasts”, “breast pictures”? Even searching for breast cancer will somewhere lead to pictures of breasts. GoGooligans is overly cautious, every other kids search engine I tested either gave inappropriate results or the results we so poor you might as well use something else. We pride ourselves on our strict filtering system plus giving relevant results.

    Sexually explicit material is not all that we block. With our Pre-Submit filter, we also prohibit such things as: “fake drivers license”, “how to poison”, “check forgery”, “become a terrorist”, “print counterfeit money”, “fake student id”, “fake drug test”.

    As for the “hey kid … click this button when your parents or teacher aren’t looking!!!” button. For those of us who have taught (29 years for me) and have been in a computer lab with 30 kids, a teachers aid (extra set of eyes) is a valuable asset. That button is a “teachers aid”, he or she can’t monitor 30 kids at once in a computer lab, we monitor the kids searching behavior just like a teacher or parent should be doing. If we check our logs and see something that got searched for that was inappropriate, we can immediately block it. Our system allows us to block keywords, individual pages, complete websites or parts of a website just by contacting us. Try contacting Yahoo to let them know that a website should be blocked.

    Some of the comments made about the “hey kid … click this button” at flickr.com said that GoGooligans is “misguided” and “Appalling”. If you think GoGooligans is misguided and appalling, feel free to send your children to one of the other kid safe search engines. What’s misguided and appalling is that no matter how much time, effort and money someone puts into protecting the online safety of our kids, someone always comes along and finds a reason to put it down.

  2. polly says:

    Ed, thank your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to share them here. I recognize that your GoGooligans project was done with the best of intentions in mind and there will be many teachers and parents who will be grateful for your efforts and make good use of it. I just don’t agree that this type of very restrictive search filtering is the best way to help kids navigate the wilds of the Internet. I hope we can agree to disagree.

  3. Ed says:

    Since you’ve suggested that GoGooligans is “a no go”, I feel you owe it to your readers to test other Kid Safe Search engines and compare their filtering and relevant results to ours. Here’s a few I tested when building GoGooligans:
    http://www.safekids.com/search.htm
    http://www.onekey.com/
    http://www.Redzee.com
    Google Safe Search
    http://kids.yahoo.com/
    http://www.kids.quintura.com/
    http://www.famhoo.com/
    http://www.kidsclick.org/
    http://www.askkids.com

    Even though I would of appreciated you contacting me with your concerns about breast cancer through the contact form I have on the website instead of bashing me in your blog, I have unblocked “breast cancer” and instead blocked 20 inappropriate breast queries.

    Ed

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  5. Pappa Ted says:

    Here is my review. Winners – Famhoo and Yahoo Kids

    SafeKids: I tried a couple of words (I will not mention them) — I would not let my child use this search engine for sure.

    Onekey: I tried a couple of words (I will not mention them) — I would not let my child use this search engine for sure.

    redzee: I tried a couple of words (I will not mention them) — I would not let my child use this search engine for sure. Even worse it shows you the porn before you even click on it — NOT GOOD!

    yahoo kids: ok, but limited results. not good for a family computer. ok for kids.

    quintura: not sure a kid can spell it — but if they can, it did not work — would not return results.

    famhoo: good results. impressive.

    kidsclick: very limited results. it works if you are searching for frog or tree, etc.. Not good for the family computer — the database is too limited.

    Ask Kids: very limited results. it works if you are searching for frog or tree, etc.. Not good for the family computer — the database is too limited.

  6. polly says:

    Pappa Ted, thanks so much for sharing the results of your tests of all the tools that Ed suggested. I’ve been meaning to do this too and have been so swamped with work I haven’t had a chance.

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