Safe Web Searching
Here are some things you can do 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 the conversation when a student stumbles upon or shares inappropriate material.
Browsers and Cookies
When you change safe search settings, the search site adds a cookie to your browser with the new setting.
This means you need to change the setting individually for every web browser installed on a computer. Most computers have a combination of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge (found in Windows 10). Each browser needs to be updated separately. Cookies are not shared between browser programs.
And make sure the changes stick.
Many school computers are set 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.
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 to test if a safe search filter is working. It's the one we use when evaluating the web filters on search sites.
It works with both text and media searches, and will give you a good idea how well links are filtered.
KidsClick! is a safe Web search engine for kids which covers both school subjects and entertainment.
The strength of this search portal is that the resource links are few, curated and high quality.
Created by a group of librarians at the Ramapo Catskill Library System in New York state, it is currently maintained by the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University.
Another safe avenue for allowing students to do their own searches of discovery is to search one of the larger content sites, like the Discovery Channel. Students can search large volumes of content with little chance of encountering inappropriate material.
PBS is another example of a large content site that's safe for students to search.
Other Areas To Check Out...
• Anatomy - The Inside Story
• Glossaries for Space Adventurers and Mere Mortals
• Identifying Learning Styles
• Tracking Web Site Changes and Lost Web Sites
• Search Tips & Strategies
• Evaluating the Quality of Information on the Internet