Kids question everything, and the internet has an answer to everything. This would be a match made in heaven, if it weren’t for the fact that the internet isn’t always the most kid-friendly place.
Search engines can be a great tool for indulging a child’s natural curiosity and even helping with homework. But even with parental blocks, search engines can lead children to answers they aren’t quite ready for. To the internet savvy kids of today, a blank search bar represents a wide open road and full control of the steering wheel.
But thanks to a new search engine, parents may be able to breathe a little easier when their kids are surfing the net. Kiddle, powered by Google’s safe search, is a visual search engine that aims to help preserve kids’ innocence by making certain searches off limits.
Pages for kids
The site looks similar to regular Google as far as color scheme -- but instead of a white background, kids are greeted by a robot alien in outer space.
After a child inputs a search, the first three results that pop up will be pages written specifically for children. The next three results will include content written in a kid-friendly fashion. The final eight or so results will include content written for adults, but screened for certain unsavory words. All results are handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors, according to their site.
But while the kid-friendly search tool may seem like every parent's dream solution, it hasn’t existed without controversy. On its list of blocked searches are words such as, “lesbian,” “gay,” “transgender,” “menstruation,” “circumcision,” and “sex education.”
Some question whether the search engine's blocks are too severe, while others wonder if it’s really the job of the editors to decide what's okay for their child to see.
"Kiddle should rethink its approach to blocking valuable LGBT advice and information,” a spokesperson for an LGBT group told BBC.
The site claims it blocks LGBT searches because it “cannot guarantee the safety” in searching such terms. In response to criticism, representatives for Kiddle told BBC, "What is OK for a child of 12 may not be OK for a child of five.”