If you have children, you know how dangerous Google search results can be: even innocuous phrases like “Adventure Time” and “The Wiggles” can dredge up seedy images from the bowels of the web — sometimes horrifyingly in context. Kiddle attempts to make internet searches safer and kid-friendly, with mixed results.
Even with strict parental supervision and maxed-out filters, it’s all too easy for kids to stumble upon something they shouldn’t on Google. This is where Kiddle comes in. It’s essentially a search engine that limits results to kid-appropriate sites. This doesn’t just mean blocking explicit content either: the Google-based search engine has been designed to favour sites specifically aimed at children. For example, a search for “Star Wars” brings up online games, toys and an age guide for each movie as the top results.
Results are divided into three sections: handpicked sites written specifically for kids, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids but are simple enough to understand, and adult sites that contain appropriate content. Results are also illustrated with larger thumbnails compared to Google.
Naturally, we attempted to break the filter with a range of potentially naughty phrases and the engine did a pretty good job of shutting us out. Amusingly, an image search for “de goya maja” returned the Spanish artist’s famous nude portrait La maja desnuda — but with the rude bits obscured by black censor bars. We’re not sure what to think of this.
More controversial is the blocking of all LGBT terms and phrases including “gay”. For what it’s worth, the site does attempt to explain its reasoning with a unique message in place of the usual “this is bad word”. Nevertheless, we imagine this would still be a bit of a slap in the face to gay parents.
As with any net nanny or search engine filter, it’s inevitable that a few inappropriate images and articles will slip through the nets. Our advice is to use Kiddle with your kids. At the very least, you should ensure connected devices are always used in communal areas where you can keep tabs on what’s being searched.