Kids Safe Searching: Bing and Yahoo beat Google

A few nights ago I had the pleasure of sharing my online safety tips with some friends over a few glasses of wine. While preparing some information to share with them I did a bit of testing. I wanted to see which search engine did the best job of hiding “adult-oriented” information from younger eyes. All three of the major search engines, Google, Yahoo, and Bing, have “Safe Search” options. I found that Bing and Yahoo did a much better job than Google.

My not-too-scientific methodology was to perform a few searches on each site with the default search settings in place. I won’t repeat my search terms here – because I don’t want THIS site to show up when people look for “dancers who don’t wear shirts” or “male body parts below the waist”.

The good news is that the default settings for all three is Safe Search ON. You then have the choice to either change the setting to “Strict” or to turn if off completely. I tried the same searches with each setting.

The bad news is that even with Safe Search locked to the strictest setting in Google I was still seeing some image results that I would prefer my daughter not see. However, Yahoo and Bing show a message similar to this: (similar message for image and video results).

Bing results blocked by Safe Search

And one more note. In Bing, the safe search setting cannot be locked.  You can set it to “strict” but a savvy kid could figure out how to change it back.  Bing (made by Microsoft) recommends using their Family Safety service, which includes web filtering.

What about Searching on mobile devices?

I tried similar searches on my daughter’s iPod touch in the Safari browser. Again I found Yahoo and Bing offerred safer searching than Google – even after changing the Google settings to Strict. So I would recommend changing the default search engine in Safari to either Yahoo or Bing on iDevices. You can do this from Settings – Safari – Search Engine:

Default search setting in Safari on iPod, iPhone

 

Another option for safe searching on an iPod touch is to use a kid-safe browser, and then remove Safari.

 

Here are some links to help you choose the most appropriate settings for your family. Keep in mind that kids are pretty savvy so for the best protection you’ll want to lock the settings in place for any search engine they may use.

Google: http://www.google.com/familysafety/tools.html (includes safety for YouTube which I’ve also written about here).

Yahoo: http://www.search.yahoo.com/preferences/preferences

Bing: http://www.bing.com/settings.aspx

Happy (and safe) Searching!

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Comments

  1. Kate Danielson says

    Thanks Jean! Hope the info session went well. What about this as your business name: “Jean-ius technology tips”. I think you’ll be ready to launch it in no time!

  2. Laurie says

    Hi Jean. Thank you for your helpful post. Both our boys have iPod touches. We thought that Safari would leave a history of where our kids have been browsing but have recently found out that it does not. We are turning it off for now and will be looking to install a kid-safe browser. Do you know if any or all of the browsers you mentioned will allow us to keep track of where our kids are searching?

    • Jean says

      Hi Laurie,
      Well the Safari browser on the iPod touch will keep the history but it is very easy to delete. The “kid-safe” browsers vary but you might want to look at McGruff safe guard. The “silver” upgrade for only 99 cents will e-mail you the browsing history of sites visited (I haven’t tested the upgrade yet). Most of these browsers also lock in safe search also so there is a little less to worry about. I’ll be updating my article soon as Mobicip is now a free download like the others and not $4.99.

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