Search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo (and lots of others) are the main way that information is retrieved from the Internet. Unfortunately, it is all to easy for inappropriate information to be retrieved as shown by the NSPCC article https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/parental-controls
The article shows how searches on words that a child would be interested in can return inappropriate content, words such as beaver, cowgirl, doggy.
A search on Google for cowgirl returns the following results
If we enable safesearch in Google then we get the following results and as you can see the list still has references to sexual positions, so even with safe search enabled the results aren’t completely free of inappropriate content
As well as enabling safe search or using a safe search engine (more of this later) you can make your searches even safer by using some easy search techniques.
Use the minus sign to narrow the search results. You simply place – in front of a word you want to leave out, for example if you search for jaguar speed -car then that will return any results for jaguar and speed and remove any references to car.
Use quotes for an exact match. Place “” round the phrase you are searching for, in this example “fastest animal” will return anything related to the words “fastest animal”.
Use * as a wildcard (to represent anything), for example largest * in the world would return information about the largest things in the world.
Use OR to combine a search, you can also use the | symbol – for example boat OR ship as well as happy | joy
Use an @ for social media search , for example @inet_guardian and this will search for all references to @inet_guardian
Use a # for hashtag searches, for example #sid2018 and this will search for all uses of that particular hashtag.
You can even combine search phrases, for example using
largest * in the world -ship -building would return the results of the largest things in the world but would exclude ship and building from the results.
By using the above techniques you can make your childrens searches even safer, as well as returning more accurate search results.
You can use childrens safe search engines which filter out adult and inappropriate content. There are lots of safe search engines such as
But please bear in mind these are not infallible and while its rare, some inappropriate content may get through, this image was still returned in a safe search on Google using the search term CowGirl.
Most, if not all search engines have safe search options, it’s just a case of finding the settings. If you go to the search engine that you use and type in safe search google or safe search bing then it will tell you how to enable safe searching.
For example in Google, click on Settings in the bottom right hand corner
Choose “Search Settings” and make sure “Turn on SafeSearch” is ticked. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Save.
Safe Searching !!