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Kids & Computers

Kid-Friendly Search Sites

It begins innocently enough. You need some ideas for a children’s party, so
you hop online and do a search. Into the search box goes the word “party,”
and back from the Web comes -- whoa -- not THAT kind of party!
When it comes to children and the World Wide Web, there can be “TMI” -- too
much information. Search Google and the results are not always
family-friendly. So, here are three places to send your kids:
Titled “The Web Guide for Kids,” Yahooligans! is a kid-friendly search site
and more. Links abound to such topics as animals, games, media and science.
The site uses a bright, splashy skin and simple words to relate to
Ask Jeeves Kids
Have your kids ever asked, “Why is the sky blue?” or “How come grass is
green?” Point them to Ask Jeeves Kids, a children’s version of the online
butler. A big bonus is the Study Tools section, where kids can get help with
their homework.
KidsClick! is a Web site designed for kids by Catskill librarians. While not
a filter, the search engine does guide children to age-appropriate sites.
Check out Kid’s Search Tools, a bunch of kid-friendly search sites pooled
together for one-stop surfing.
Now that you have kid-friendly sites, here are some search tips:
Use a funnel
Teach kids to funnel keyword topics from wide to narrow. For “Brazilian rain
forest,” start wide -- forest -- and end narrow -- Brazil. Show them how to
place conditions on keywords to better focus the search:
Use “+” or “AND” between keywords to search all words, such as
Use “OR” between keywords to search either word, such as forestORrain+Brazil
Use “-“ or “NOT” to exclude a word, such as forest+rain+Brazil-products
When clueless, get a clue from the Directory
If kids don’t know a keyword, let the home page Directory lead the way. For
example, in Yahooligans! you can click “Science and Nature” and drill down
to “The Earth,” “Ecology,” “Rainforests …” and so on. If kids can’t spell an
entire keyword, have them stick an asterisk after the part they do know --
such as “Braz*” -- to get likely matches.
Finally, just a hint from one mom to another: Nothing is perfect. You still
need to supervise the wee ones. I searched the keyword “party” on kid sites
and got back much cleaner results than with Google. But I also got the
Donner Party, famous for allegations of cannibalism. So the bottom-line: You
still need to watch your kids, even at the kids’ search sites. Kim Komando


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