(update: March 2, 2016 – Check the comments below for updates and additional links)
Lots of folks are sharing links to kiddle.co, supposedly a new kids search tool and touting it as an answer to a parent’s prayers, so to speak.
It’s not that new, the domain was registered in 2014 and the service was mentioned in some blog posts back then. But it’s getting new press this week, initially from some business magazines that should do more fact checking before they report. This tool is most definitely not some long-awaited release from Google that they describe.
It does use the Google’s custom search service which allows anyone to build their own custom search box using Google results. (A really great service, btw.) Kidrex, GoGooligans and other tools that have disappeared, have all used this approach. Each of them limits results by turning on Google’s Safe Search option and to some extent by simply blocking what kiddle is calling “bad words”. Sure wish they’d use some other wording there. Search for “breast cancer” and you get no results and you’re told there was a bad word in your search. Similarly “sperm whale” “sexual harassment” etc…. (Thanks to my friend JD for some of these examples.)
There was a well-deserved brouhaha today about the words gay, lesbian, homosexual, etc. being blocked and labeled “bad”. That’s changed, they’re still blocked, but the response is less judgmental now.
On top of all this, kiddle is full of ads. Sure, it’s fine to have ads on a website, I have ads on this site. But if you’re going to have a kidsafe search engine, get rid of the ads.
I don’t really love any of these tools, though if I had to pick one of these custom search engines, it would be Kidrex. It doesn’t have ads and the message when you enter something potentially not kid-safe is “oops, try again” – not judgy and guilt-heavy!
But remember, the results are still coming from Google. No amount of keyword blocking and “safe search” filters will keep kids from finding stuff you might question. So none of these tools are answers to all your parental prayers. I’m not saying don’t use them, just use them wisely.
You might give SweetSearch a try, great for older elementary and middle school students. It searches 35,000 pre-screened educational resources. Easy to use and free.
And check with your local school and public libraries. See what research resources they have for kids, I’m pretty sure you’ll find some great resources there.
Most of all, be there when your younger kids are searching for information, help them navigate the virtual world, just as you do the physical world. Will they still search for silly, stupid stuff and test all the limits? Yep, I hope so!