Keeping Kids Safe Online: A Critique of Kiddle
It’s a whole new world out there for kids nowadays. We don’t go more than a day without reading somewhere that a child has had a nasty experience online and we shake our heads, wondering if parental controls were in place on the device. Parents have the option to activate controls for when their children are using Google to help children escape inappropriate material in search engine results. Google has recently released its own child-friendly search engine called Kiddle which only returns results that are safe for children to access and see. These results are vetted by Kiddle editors making sure nothing slips through the net. Or so you would think, right?
The thing is, as some critics and reviewers have found, Kiddle doesn’t always filter out content that could actually be seen as inappropriate, and even worse the restrictions in place while a child is using Kiddle are really easy to swerve – a child could figure them out in minutes if he or she were quite astute and apt at using simple software and search engine settings, as a lot of children these days are.
Other things get through Kiddle filters too – like unsavoury celebs. “Some celebrities currently slip through the net including some of the Kardashian clan,” Sky News reported recently. Kim Kardashian posted yet another nude selfie on Twitter this week. Fab. “A search for a rabbit brings up a news story about a rabbit being killed by a Danish radio host.” Also fab. Just what little Jessica or Jamie wants to read.
Amanda Connelly from The Next Web has concerns too. And quite rightly so – sexual natured conversations and articles, and God forbid, photos and videos can be so damaging to children. “A simple spelling mistake or breaking up of the words can get you detailed results on things of a sexual nature. If I could find these in less than two minutes, I have no doubt that any Internet-savvy kid can do the same.” Amanda also has concerns about who decides what is okay for kids and hat isn’t when it comes to things like bodies and sexuality in terms of education and awareness. Kiddle filters out search terms she believes shouldn’t be censored such as “suicide” or “menstruation.” She’s kinda right. A child researching breast cancer for example would have their search blocked by Kiddle and poof goes their homework.
“These are everyday things that children will deal with, regardless of whether Kiddle blocks them or not. It’s only blocking them from the Internet, not real life, and preventing kids from learning appropriately,” Amanda continued in her critique of Kiddle. “While the intentions of Kiddle’s creator may have been good, it needs some work before it can be regarded as truly useful in my opinion.” We agree with her if we’re honest. It’s great and absolutely necessary to protect kids online but if it’s gets to the point where kids are being restricted too much, it’s pointless. What if a ten year old can’t ask his parents about puberty? He might type in something to Kiddle about what’s going on in his trousers – we’ve all done it – and he will probably be blocked. What good is that? There’s got to be a happy medium somewhere.
SEO Enterprise believes the internet is a great thing when it is used properly. If we had the time, we’d love to create a kid safe internet search engine but for now we’ll have to stick to providing SEO services to our lovely clients! We know that the internet is necessary for everyday life for most people – how and when did this happen? That’s next week’s blog! – but it really can be abused at times. Using Google and the internet on a daily basis in our work gives us big insights into the world wide web – trust us, it’s gargantuan out there online and it can be confusing. We’re always careful, and you should be too. Our routines don’t really change, our online habits don’t either. We’re always working hard to provide our clients with SEO services such as web design in Manchester where we’re based and we’re confident in what we do, so it’s not likely we’ll come a cropper online – but your kids need supervision at all times online, so don’t risk it and leave them alone online.