Kiddle: Children's Google Search Engine

by NDFAuthors

  • Apr 26, 2016

Imagine there was a children-friendly search engine out there filtering all inappropriate news and only leaving children with information suitable for their age. Kiddle may just be the solution.

The Internet has become one of our most useful resources when it comes to finding answer to all sorts of questions. Now children find the information they are looking for by typing it into Google’s search box on their phone or computer. This process is much more convenient than getting to the next library or searching through large encyclopedias in order to find public information on a topic. Yet, this convenience is compromised by the danger of finding inappropriate information.

The Children-friendly Search Engine in Action

So far search engines have not been the best friends of parents when trying to keep children safe online. But Kiddle, the search engine powered by Google safe search, was invented to fix this issue. The designers of Kiddle decided to go for an interface that looks an awful lot like the one Google uses, making children less suspicious of using a different search engine than their parents or older brothers and sisters. The only major difference is that the designers exchanged the white webpage found on Google’s homepage with a much more fun looking space themed background and a robot in front of the search box. So how does the search engine work?

Copyright: Africa Studio

Copyright: Africa Studio

Working the same way other search engines do, children can write a query into the search box and Kiddle will pull up a list of links including news, images and videos matching the search request. According to research carried out by Tech Times, Kiddle classifies search results into three categories: the first results are handpicked by Kiddle’s editors, results further down the page are written in easy language and focus their attention on children as their main audience, and the rest of the links are pages that are chosen by Google safe search. As if by magic, inappropriate search results will not appear at all.

In more detail, results hand-picked by the editors ensure that they are children-friendly. In most of the searches, the first three articles will be written for children. The majority of the other results will be picked by Goggle safe search. These pages are tailored for adult audiences which may make it more difficult for children to understand the content but Kiddle guarantees that these website do not include any inappropriate topics.

Children’s Privacy, Inappropriate Searches and Celebrities

Regarding data protection, unlike Google, Kiddle promises that logs are cleared very day and that the search engine does not save or collect any personal information. When it comes to children searching for inappropriate content themselves, Kiddle will flag this search by showing an angry looking robot asking to try again. This should be a very welcome relief for parents who know that their children love to play with search engines and who try to make inappropriate search requests because they are interested to see what information they can find.   There is also a form where parents can submit further key words that should be blocked in case there are words that have not yet been blocked.

Copyright: Tatyana Vyc

Copyright: Tatyana Vyc

Kiddle’s safe search does not only protect children when they try to find suitable information for school projects, it also works for searches on celebrities. Inappropriate behaviours, ambitious music videos or images unsuitable for children are filtered. For instance, if a child were to search the former Disney actor Selena Gomez, the newest music video would be blocked as well as her starring in the 16+ rated movie called ‘spring breakers’ and her controversial relationship to former boyfriend Justin Bieber.

The Limits of Protection

However, according to an article published by the BBC, media has been criticising Kiddle recently due to the fact that there were and still are search anomalies such as the blocking of the celebrity Pamela Anderson but not the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. Words that were also blocked by the search engine until recently included the adjectives gay and lesbian. This decision triggered protests by campaign groups who argued that Kiddle should allow children to read about these terms from a children-friendly perspective rather than leaving them uneducated and risking that children turn to alternative search engines finding inappropriate information instead.

Copyright: Ilike

Copyright: Ilike

In the digital age, there are many dangers online that require parents’ supervision no matter how much parents trust their children. Parents should keep in mind that Kiddle cannot shield children 100% from inappropriate content. In the end, parents need to pay attention to the search history of the phones and tablets of their youngsters. Since control mechanisms only have a limited scope, it may be a good idea to have age-appropriate conversations with children on a regular basis in order to teach them how important it is to use the Internet responsibly.