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Playing with Kids' Search Engines

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Looking for the best ways of discovering kid-friendly content on the web? Check out our just-updated listings and reviews of Kid Search Engines.

It almost goes without saying that allowing children unfettered access to the web is a really bad idea. It's hard enough for an experienced adult to avoid spam, porn and other unsavory content on the web. Fortunately, there are some outstanding services that not only steer kids clear of the nasty stuff, but also help them find age-appropriate information.

I've updated Search Engine Watch's listings of kid friendly search services to include a number of new, very high quality sites. I've also added a section about filtering software, which works across the entire web, not just for search results. Most filtering software provides a fair amount of control for parents to determine what it and is not allowable content.

Here's a taste of what's available on that page, describing the filtering options available at the major search engines:

Search Engine Filtering Options

Most major search engines get their listings by crawling the web, rather than through human review and categorization, as with the sites listed above. This means its easy for possibly objectionable material to appear in search results.

As a solution, most major search engines offer some type of filtering ability. It's meant to keep out porn content and other material that most might not want children to encounter.

These filters are not perfect. Some material does get past them, and some safe material may get filtered out. To understand more about this, see the Harvard Criticizes Google's Adult Content Filter article that ran in our SearchDay newsletter in April 2003.

Below are tips on enabling porn filters for major search engines.

AllTheWeb: Use the Basic Settings page to enable the Offensive Content Filter option. The only works for searches in English.

AltaVista: Use the Family Filter Setup page.

AOL Search: Doesn't appear to offer a filter, but enabling Parental Controls might have an impact on web search matches.

Ask Jeeves: Use options for Content Filtering on the Your Settings page or try Ask Jeeves For Kids, listed above.

Google: See the SafeSearch help page for instructions on setting up filtering on a permanent or as-needed basis.

HotBot: Use the Block Offensive Content section of the Filter Preferences page. Note that you may need to set this again if you change from using the default "HotBot" search engine that's offered.

LookSmart: LookSmart has never accepted adult content for listing within its directory results. However, obscure queries might bring these up in the crawler-based results that are sometimes provided.

Lycos: Use the Block Offensive Content section of the Advanced Search Filters page.

MSN Search: Use the Safe Search Filter on the Settings page.

Teoma: Teoma doesn't appear to offer a filter.

Yahoo: Set the SafeSearch Filter option via the Search Preferences page.

Want to learn more about kid friendly search services? Visit the Kids Search Engines section of Search Engine Watch.

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