Safe Web Search Tools
Here are some options you can use to make searching safer on your school computers.
Most search services will block inappropriate content when using their safe search feature, but their methods are not foolproof.
Be prepared for that conversation when a student stumbles upon or shares inappropriate material.
KidzSearch combines Google safe search with a constantly updated list of blocked keywords and site names to provide safe search results for students. When using a site like KidzSearch, you do not have to worry about missing cookies or forgotten settings. Does a good job, but not recommended for the youngest students.
Similar to KidzSearch, with keyword and site blocking, the site is appropriate and formatted for younger students.
Fact Monster is a little different in that it combines a search engine with essential reference materials, fun facts and features, and even homework help and games. Worth checking out.
Another safe avenue for allowing students to do their own searches of discovery is to search one of the larger wide ranging content sites, like The Smithsonian Institution.
Students can search large volumes of content – web pages, images, videos, and stories – with little chance of encountering inappropriate material.
PBS is another example of a wide ranging content site that's safe for students to search.
Safe Search and Cookies
When you change safe search settings, the search site will add a "cookie" to your browser with the new setting.
This means you'll need to change the settings individually for every web browser installed on each computer. Many computers have some combination of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Each browser needs to be updated separately as cookies are not shared between browser programs.
Then you'll need to make sure the changes stick. Many school computers are set up to remove cookies, which will reset any safe search changes. After making a change, completely exit the web browser (or better, reboot the computer) and see if the safe search setting is still correct.
Simply using one of the "kids only" search engines can make things easier and surprise free.
Google offers a Safe Site search option. It's worth taking a few minutes and setting this option on every computer students will be using.
Bing also offers a safe search option. You can implement it using these directions.
Search Filter Test Word
Use the word bareback and the phrase castro clone to test how well a safe search filter is working. These are the terms we use when evaluating the web filters on search sites.
They work with both text and media searches, and will give you a good idea how well results are filtered.