We live in a time when you can find just about anything you need by searching the web. The problem is, you can also find a whole lot of NSFW stuff that’s especially inappropriate for kids. You can turn on Google’s SafeSearch filters, but you’ll need to do it on every device kids might use. An easier option can be child-friendly Google alternatives, like this roundup of the best search engines for kids.
Note: Even with safer search engines for kids, it’s important to teach students about digital citizenship. Kids need to know how to navigate safely online, no matter where they land. Check out What Is Digital Citizenship? (Plus, Ideas for Teaching It) to get started.
This is one of our favorite safer search engines for kids. Kiddle not only limits its results to sites that are kid-friendly, it also displays them in an order and style that’s easy for kids to understand. The first few results will always be from sites written specifically for kids, followed by those that aren’t just for children but are written in simple language they’ll be able to understand. The rest of the results are filtered using Google’s safe search on the strictest settings. Oversized thumbnails and large, clear text also make things easier for kids to navigate, all without any ads.
This kid-safe search engine uses Google’s “strict” filtering technology every time, on every device. KidzSearch partners with Safe Search Kids to ensure the most up-to-date content is always available, without the risk of inappropriate results. Their advanced keyword filtering system monitors for alternate and modified spellings, including those where numbers substitute for letters. Use it on the web or install the free apps on any kind of device (note that ads do appear in the results).
Using Google’s SafeSearch, KidRex emphasizes kid-friendly pages in its results. It also has an additional database of inappropriate keywords and sites, and blocks social media results. Automatically generated Google ads appear at the top of the search results page, so teach kids to scroll past those.
This limited-site search engine only returns results from sites recommended and vetted by teachers, librarians, and educational orgs. It’s meant for the pre-K and elementary crowd. Our test searches returned reasonably good results, although ad results, which may or may not be relevant, appear at the top.
SweetSearch is another limited-site search engine for kids, limiting its results to a carefully curated “whitelist” of sites vetted by librarians, educators, and researchers. To make the list, a site must be credible and trusted and have academic value and journalistic integrity. Google ads appear at the top of the results but are clearly marked as ads.
Elementary school students will find Fact Monster useful when they’re doing homework or research. Think of it sort of like Wikipedia for kids, since the articles are all created and curated using trusted resources. Unlike Wikipedia though, only the site’s editors, authors, and advisors can create or alter content. The site is ad-supported, though they’re not too intrusive.
Looking for a safe, ad-free way to search specifically for academic articles? Google Scholar is a great solution. The results are limited to scholarly publications, so it’s ideal for high school research projects that need strong primary sources. Younger users will likely find the results too advanced though.