Child-friendly search engines

One of the most frequent actions that children do online is searching for information. What happens when they come across harmful content or information that is not appropriate for their age? Is there any way to prevent them from accessing such information on regular search engines? What happens to the information that children look up online or to the data that they insert about themselves? 

In recent years, many search engines have become available tailored especially for children. The main purpose is to try to prevent children from accessing harmful or inappropriate content which might be easily accessed on other search engines used daily by adults. Some examples of the most popular such websites where kids can browse through safe content include: 
Kiddle is a kid safe visual search engine. Kiddle uses Google Custom Search but is not affiliated with Google Inc. Kiddle returns results for each query in the order shown below:
  • Safe sites and pages written specifically for kids. Handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors. 
  • Typically listed as results 1-3.
  • Safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way, easy for kids to understand. Handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors. Typically list as results 4-7.
  • Safe, famous sites that are written for adults, providing expert content but are harder for kids to understand. Filtered by Google safe search. Typically listed as result 8 onwards.
If users search on Kiddle words that are classified as inappropriate content, they will receive an error message ‘Oops, try again!'. Kiddle also has a designated page addressing parents and educators with internet safety tips, advising them to teach children about online safety, to stay involved and monitor what websites they visit. For queries and questions, contact Kiddle here.
KidRex is also a search engine for kids, made by kids. KidRex searches emphasise kid-related webpages from across the entire web and are powered by Google Custom Search™ and use Google SafeSearch™ technology. This screens for sites that contain explicit sexual content and deletes them from the child's search results. For parents, KidRex has a page dedicated to tips for online safety. If you have specific questions, you may contact KidRex here.
Swiggle is a multidisciplinary website for children coordinated by the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) – part of the UK Safer Internet Centre. The first function of Swiggle that appears on the website is that of a search engine, providing results that include mostly content suitable for children. Swiggle also links to online learning tools (in cooperation with London Grid for Learning) and online safety resources. 
YouTube Kids is the version of popular video-sharing social network, aiming to present family-friendly videos, where kids can explore their imagination in a safe environment. To provide support for parents, YouTube Kids has also published a parental guide. This website has not been made available yet at a global level; it can be accessed in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. 
From children and young people to adults, protecting users' data privacy has become paramount especially in the European context of the General Data Protection Regulation reform. As tackled in the latest BIK Bulletin, data protection is one of the most significant issues to be taken into consideration by (child friendly) search engines. One interesting example would be DuckDuckGo: despite its child friendly title and logo, it is not necessarily a search engine addressing only children. Moreover, a distinctive trait of this search engine is the fact that it does not track users and does not collect or share personal information (DuckDuckGo Privacy) and it has also a community where users can ask for help
For more information on other child-friendly search tools such as Zoodles, Ask Kids or KidzSearch you may also check the article from Common Sense Media - Kid-Safe Browsers and Search Sites

Related news

What is Google doing for my child's sexual education?

  • Awareness
  • 12/09/2018
  • Portuguese Safer Internet Centre

The easy access to pornographic content offered by search engines to anyone, including young children, is one the main concerns of parents nowadays. Teresa Sofia Castro, post-doctoral researcher in Educational Technology at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal, recounts her research interviews with children on the topic, and suggests some guidelines for parents.