Last week the new kid-friendly search engine, Kiddle, launched, and the news was quickly tweeted, blogged, and "Facebooked" to the computers of parents and educators, hungry for a safe internet experience for the little people they love.
Unfortunately, in the excitement, many of these first reports led to some misinformation. There was also some controversy involving keywords being blocked by Kiddle. In light of the questions I have received, I did a little reading to try and clarify these concerns for our parents and teachers.
First and foremost, Kiddle is NOT owned by Google.
It is powered by Google safe search.
Kiddle does offer a bold statement of safety:
They also offer a link for parents to request keyword blocking as well as site blocking.
When I tried Kiddle for myself, I was please with the filtering. The search engine even seemed to interpret some pretty severe "kid spellings", yielding appropriate search results. For example, I typed "liyns", a common Kinder spelling for "lions", and I got......lions!! I am thrilled by this! It is the perfect tool our teachers need to facilitate independent research in the lower grade levels!
One opinion piece had suggested that searches can allow access to inappropriate materials if words are misspelled or extra spaces added. I did try to replicate this but was blocked with an,"Oops, try again!", message.
So, what else does Kiddle proclaim?
- Editors are involved in the selection of resources for searches
- Kiddle collects no personal information and clears logs every 24 hours.
- The Kiddle searches are "ranked":
As for the Kiddle controversy, there seem to be concerns surrounding the blocking of some key words. The BBC reports that "sex education", "LGBT", "lesbian", "gay" and "transgender" are blocked by Kiddle, disappointing some groups who deem this information valuable.
I myself am not concerned that the keywords included in this list will limit access to critical information desperately needed by children. There is always Google search out there, so Kiddle is just one more great tool in the technology toolbox for parents and educators.
Personally, I enjoyed my Kiddle experience! I loved the thumbnail images that accompany search results, the larger print (since I do wear bifocals) and the extra safety-net it might provide for the little people in my world! However, I would remind everyone that, despite its heady promises, nothing can replace the watchful eyes of parents and teachers. So, be sure to keep up the good work of monitoring while enjoying Kiddle in your home or classroom!
And for those too young to know......."..a Kiddle eat ivy too, wouldn't you?"