The concept of filtering content on searches is a very controversial one.
On one side, there’s the argument that the internet is today’s reality. Students need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly and what to do when they stumble upon the ugly.
On the other side, there’s the argument that students should be able to perform their own searching, using real tools, but that content that’s really offensive should be filtered from the results.
It’s very easy to see and nod agreement to both sides of the discussion. As I noted a few days ago when I took a look at Instagrok, I had created this resource to help the cause by providing links to the advanced section of search engines as well as specialty searches. There’s no guarantee that students will use the same resource when they’re at home, but by putting it out and making it public, at least you have a chance. I know that many of my teacher-librarian friends had been supporters of the concept and sent home newsletters and other resources to help students search safely and effectively. This guide had been created to support the cause.
Now, you can go into your favourite search engine and turn on the content filter but a child can turn that off in a couple of seconds!
Safe Search for Kids has another option. Using Google’s Custom Search, they’ve created an environment that will always return filtered and, presumably safe results.
Safe Search Canada
This site performs a general internet search that returns results as any search engine does – but filtered. In this case, the content comes from google.ca
But, the internet is more than just search terms. In an increasingly media rich world, we want images; we want pictures. And, the internet has them. Lots of them. I’m reminded of a saying that a friend told me once “Not all bunnies are rabbits”.
To help the cause, SafeSearch also has an image search engine.
In this case, the content that you don’t want turning up from image searches, shouldn’t.
The two resources provide a level of safe searching suitable for classrooms and home use. I’d have no problem promoting them for safe internet use by students. They also provide resources and a tutorial about all kinds of things dealing with internet safety. This would be a great resource to share with parents.
It would be foolish to think that this sanitizes everything and that students can get online without concern. But, it’s a good start.