Kid Safe Search Engines

This link came through on my learning feed yesterday.

11 Great Kids Safe Search Engines

Clicking through reveals a collection of search engines, some supported by advertising – some not, that the authors recommend for “safe searching” by kids.


On the surface, this appears to be a good idea.  As we all know, everything or close to it, is available on-line.  You have to just find it.  So, I guess the idea here is based on the premise that if you only provide a subset of the big Internet, you’re doing your job and keeping kids safe.

I wonder though…

  1. When kids go home, do they ask mom and dad to use one of these search engines and use them for help when they run into problems?  I wonder how many times the answer is “Just Google It”.
  2. Are the sites generally “safe” for English language users?  Try using an expression in a different language and see if the results are just as safe in that language.
  3. Is there really a need in the classroom to use a search engine?  If the target audience is young users, wouldn’t it make sense to provide a collection of direct links through your class wiki or blog that will take students to topics that you know will be of value?
  4. Related to that, how about revisiting the concept of the Webquest, a model promoted by Bernie Dodge where the goal is to use the information from the internet and not waste time finding it.  Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan.
    A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March, the Educational Technology staff at San Diego Unified School District, and waves of participants each summer at the Teach the Teachers Consortium at The Thacher School in Ojai, California.
  5. Is there a need to have 11 search engines?  Hopefully, the answer is no.  Knowing one or two search engines and everything that they do gets back to the education of the curriculum and not the education of learning another search engine.  The authors do make their thoughts about advertising supported search in the article.
  6. Have you considered making your own search engine?  Major search engines like Google do allow you to create a customized search.  Or, something that I’m a real fan of – put the links that you find as you do your class research into a Diigo account and have students search there for content that has already been seen by you.
  7. There does come a time when students need to know how to navigate the big search engines and to be able to discern fact from fiction, particularly in this era of fake news.  That’s more than just turning students loose on a search engine; it needs carefully crafted instruction.
  8. Create your own portal page – related to many of the ideas above, create your own pages with links to resources that will produce the results that support your curriculum.  Anyone who has ever searched for that elusive answer on the Internet knows of the challenges.  I read an article a long time ago and wish I’d saved it but the gist was that students could find what they’re looking for in the top 10 results from a Google Search.  Either they’re better than I am at finding things or they’re happy to settle for the first things they find.
  9. Don’t lose sight of the fact that computing resources typically in your school are a limited resource.  Aren’t there better things that students should be doing than searching the Internet?
  10. Embrace the best resources – not on-line, but perhaps next door, down the hall, or in your Resource Centre.  There are people, like your teacher-librarian, that may already have this mastered.  Ask for advice; my experience is that they’re happy to share it and may well even take your class for you to teach the concepts.
  11. Be aware that today’s tech-savvy user knows that all browsers search by typing search terms in the URL bar so actually going to another site and then searching takes that extra step.  So, a quick search that ways circumvents your best laid plans!  Do you know how to change the default search engine in your browser?

As I wrap up this post, I don’t want it to appear as though that I’ve criticizing the original report.  I certainly don’t and appreciate the work that went into researching this and creating the graphic.

If you believe in the concept of kid safe search engines, I’d encourage you to bookmark this resource and use one or two of the sites only. Then, ask yourself from a pedagogy approach, just what place searching has in your classroom and how you can use it or some variation to achieve curriculum goals.

That’s the hallmark of a great technology using teacher.

OTR Links 01/24/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.