There are times in life when your children will need to use the Internet. Even elementary school-aged children will need to get online for school. The fact that the Internet is not something that can be avoided in today’s society does not mean that you cannot take proper measures to ensure their safety. One of the best ways to do this is with kid-friendly search engines. There are some aspects you should know about these sites.
What Are Kid-Friendly Search Engines
These are search engines that have additional filters on them. This helps to keep out offensive or inappropriate sites and images that traditional search engines would not. The nice thing about these sites is that they are designed to look visually appealing to children. Most of them are aimed at elementary-age children so middle and high school children may not be as big of a fan. Overall, they can be a great tool for introducing your child to the Internet.
Where to find Search Engines for Kids
While Google Kids was one of the first kid-friendly search engines to emerge, there are others that you can use as well. This includes:
- Quintura for Kids– This is a safe kids search powered by Yahoo. It is designed to give a visual search that is easier for kids. Rather than having the different themes of the word they search listed in a row down a page, the links are sporadic on a cloud. From there, the links are put below the cloud.
- Kid Rex– This is Google for kids as it is powered by Google. It has a fun design as the page looks to be drawn with crayons, featuring a dinosaur for protection. It uses Google safe search and they keep a list of inappropriate sites and keyword searches that cannot be used with this site.
- Squirrel Net– This is another Google safe search for kids. On the homepage, kids can see different categories that pertain to children that they can click in. Some of these include your family, teen life, games, and more. It has a little more grown-up appearance making it ideal for older children who still want to use kids Google.
- Kidtopia– This is another site powered by Google. It is very visually stimulating and entertaining for children. There are crayons with different crayons with themes on them, such as people. When you click on them, you get subcategories. From there you will choose the site you want to go to. The sites listed are only kid-approved sites so there is no worry of them ending up somewhere they should not.
Signs Your Child Could Be at Risk
There are a few signs to be on the lookout for that can show that your child is putting themselves at risk online according to the FBI.
- Children who spend lots of time online in chat rooms trying to make new friends. While there is nothing wrong with making friends, you want to make sure your child has appropriate friends.
- You find pornography on the computer
- Your child receives gifts, calls, or emails from people you do not know
- The child becomes withdrawn from members of the family
- They shut the monitor off or change windows when someone walks by
If you notice any of these signs, you should talk with your child. While one of these signs may be nothing, seeing several of them can indicate that there is something going on with your child when they are online.
Are They the Only Option for Keeping Kids Safe Online?
While there are many benefits that a kid-friendly search engine can provide, it is important to realize that this is not the only option. There are other ways that you can keep your child safe online. Some of these methods include:
- Parental controls-Many computers today come with parental control software installed. If not, you can buy this. It will keep kids from going to sites they should not be on.
- Supervised or Monitored Internet Access-There are many children, especially older children who will complain that this is an invasion of privacy. However, this is one way to keep them safe by ensuring they do not end up on sites they should not be on. You do not have to watch their every move online, but you should check in on them periodically and have an idea of what they are doing. This is also a good way to teach them about checks and balances in life. It can be a good idea to keep computers that have Internet access in a central location where you can keep an eye on them.
- Keep Them on Age Appropriate Chats and Forums- One of the brilliant things about the Internet is the way that it can allow people to chat with those around the world. However, you do not want to expose your child to adults and those who could take advantage of them. There are many chat rooms specifically designed for children. Make sure of the controls the site uses before you allow your child to use it.
- Pop Up Blockers– Even with safe search, pop-ups are sometimes of an inappropriate or malicious nature. This is why you should make sure that the pop-up blockers are installed so your child does not see something they should not.
Talk with Your Child
The best thing you can do is to talk with your child about Internet safety. You want to tell them about all the different issues they could face when they are online, such as strangers and cyberbullying. Along with this, you want to talk with them about ways that they can keep them safe. This includes things such as never giving out their real name, birth date, or other identifying information.
Make sure your child understands that they should never share a password, even with a close friend. Explain to them the dangers of what can happen when they do this. You should also teach your child about setting up the right password for their protection.