The phrase “just Google it” has become the norm in most households nowadays, as the powerful search engine dominates the way we receive and filter information online every day. But there’s always a level of trepidation for parents, when their kids head to Google. Although Google does enable you to filter search results using Safe Search, it’s still not a perfect solution.
Enter Kiddle – the visual search engine for children, that’s being punted as a reliable alternative to Google, and specifically tailored to enable kids to explore the online world in a secure way, preventing them from stumbling across explicit or unsuitable content. It’s powered by Google’s Safe Search functionality, but is not operated by the global search powerhouse. Kiddle goes a step further than Safe Search, by disallowing access to searches that include contentious or unsuitable terms. For example, when you search the word “murder”, Kiddle doesn’t serve up search results. Instead, you get a crazy robot image with the text “Oops, looks like your query contained some bad words. Please try again!”
Let’s Break It?
Earlier this week, the folks over htxt tried to break Kiddle, with some surprising results – you should read this article to find out more about some of the oddities they came across. I’ve also fiddled around with it a bit, and was a bit alarmed to find that certain words related to sexuality and gender identities seem to be disallowed (I mean, let’s be honest – kids ARE going to Google this at some point). Instead, they are served this message: “You have entered an LGBT related search query. Please realize that while Kiddle has nothing against the LGBT community, it’s hard to guarantee the safety of all the search results for such queries. We recommend that you talk to your parent or guardian about such topics.” I can understand the Kiddle viewpoint, but also know in the other hemisphere of life that, very often, the reason why children are conducting searches for information is because they feel they can’t talk to their parent about something.
On their About page, Kiddle outlines how it categorises search results and how the service makes it easier for children to search, using big thumbnails and font size. Keyword and Site Blocking facilities are also available, and you can suggest further keywords or sites that you’d like Kiddle to consider for blocking – I quite like that they ask users for their input! A team of editors and a friendly guard robot help to ensure that the search results stay safe and free of explicit content. I’m not entirely certain that it’s catching everything inappropriate just yet, but let’s call it a work in progress for now!
Parents – a quick note – the URL for Kiddle is www.kiddle.co and not .com – that domain is invalid – I think it would be good for the folks over at Kiddle to buy that one too! Kiddle is available as a suitable alternative for your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, but I’d really like to see it in a mobile application format. It’s always nice to have choice when it comes to online search resources!