ChildrenOnline

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How to Turn On “Safe Search” features of Search Engines

by Doug Fodeman, Director of Technology, Brookwood School; [Updated 8-14-13]

Nearly every major search engine on the internet comes with the ability to filter out most “adult” web content that is not appropriate for children. Unfortunately none of the search engines have this feature turned on to its strictest settings by default. Below are a list of all major search engines with instructions how to turn on the strict web filtering feature known as “safe searching”.

Please keep in mind, however, that just as you can turn this feature on, a savvy child can also turn this feature off. Also, if you clear your browser's cookies (a good idea to do periodically to better protect your privacy) you will have to reset all safe search features. Also, in order for these features to work you must FIRST log in to the computer account to which you want them to apply! If you have more than one child’s log-in on a computer then you will need to log in as each child and turn this feature on for each web site. The time spent doing this is well worth the effort!

Please note that there are also some very good child-centered search engines on the internet. Here are the top four:
    Dibdabdoo           Quintura Kids           KidsClick         KidRex

Special note about YouTube:

In 2010, YouTube provided a "Safety Mode" feature to try to minimize the availability of videos that contain potentially objectionable material. It is not perfect but it does help. It can be found at the bottom of each YouTube page. Keep in mind that this feature DOES NOT act as a filter for the horrible language and content often found in the comments underneath videos.

A. GOOGLE.COM
1. Conduct a search for anything, such as the word "duck." You'll see a gear symbol appear in the upper right corner of Google's returned links.
2. Click the gear symbol in the upper right corner and select "Search settings."
3. At the top of the page you'll see settings called Safe Search Filters. Click on the checkbox “Filter Explicit Results”
4. If you have a Gmail account, you can click on “Lock Safe Search”, log into your Gmail account and lock Strict safe searching so that your child cannot unlock it. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you, or your child, delete your browser's cookies, this will automatically disable your strict safe search settings. Also, you will need to conduct these steps for each webbrowser AND each child's web account on your computer and i-device.
For more information from Google on Safe Search, visit their web page here.

B. BING.COM
1. Click the Gear symbol in the upper right corner of the web page.
2. The first item at the top of the page is Safe Search. Select the radio button for “Strict”
3. Be sure to click the button at the top or bottom right that says “Save Settings”.

C. YAHOO.COM
1. Click into the Yahoo search field and enter any word such as “test” and hit enter.
2. Yahoo will return a set of links. Just to the right of the search field click on the Gear Symbol and select Preferences.
3. Safe Search is the first item on the list. Click the Edit link to the right of it.
4. Select the top radio button “Filter out adult Web, video, and image search results - SafeSearch On”
5. Click the Save button at the top or bottom of the window.
NOTE: Safe search can be locked ONLY if you create and log into a Yahoo account

D. HULU.COM (Popular video media site)
Hulu no longer offers the ability to conduct safe search or parental controls.
However, they require users to have an account and state that they are 17 or older in order to see mature-rated videos. (Of course, anyone can create an account and state they are older than 17.) More information is available here. NOTE: R or M-rated movies may be listed as links to trailers at other websites that do not offer any parental controls or safe searching.

E. ASKJEEVES.COM (Also called ASK.COM)
1. In the very upper right corner of your screen, click on the word Settings.
2. Locate the second item down the list: Content Filtering. Click the second radio button for “Never show alerts. Always filter content.”
3. Click “Save Changes”

F. SEARCH.AOL.COM
1. Click the word Settings located at the top left side of the window.
2. Select "Use Strict Filtering" under Safe Search.
3. Click "Save Settings"

G. HOTBOT.COM
1. Click the pencil symbol which is located just under the search field.
2. Look for the item Block Offensive Content. Click the radio button next to these words AND click “Always”.
3. Be sure to click the Save button at the bottom of this list.

H. SEARCH.COM
1. Click the word "Settings" located in the upper right corner of the window.
2. Look for the Safe Search options.
3. Under Safe Search options click all 3 check boxes and then click OK.

I. BLINKX.COM (Video search)
Safe Search is turned on by default.

NOTE: The following search engines offer no ability to filter offensive content. IceRocket.com, Mama.com, Hakia.com, Gigablast.com

The following are known as “Meta-Directories” because they search multiple search engines at once:

J. DOGPILE.COM
1. Click the word Preferences which is located just to the right of the search field.
2. The first item down is Search Filter. Select the radio button for “ Filter: Heavy - All results will be filtered, including Web and Multimedia Search results with as much explicit context removed as possible.”
3. Be sure to click the button at the bottom of the window that says “Save Settings”.

K. EXCITE.COM
1. Click into the search field and enter any word such as “test” and hit enter.
2. Excite.com will return a set of links. Click the word Preferences in the upper right corner of the web page.
3. The first item down is Search Filter
4. Select: Filter Heavy.
5. Select Save Settings at the bottom of the page.

L. WEBCRAWLER.COM
1. Click the word Preferences which is located to the right of the search field.
2. The first item down is Search Filter. Select the radio button for “Filter: Heavy - All results will be filtered, including Web and Multimedia Search results with as much explicit context removed as possible.”
3. Be sure to click the button at the bottom of the window that says “Save Settings”.

NOTE: Surfwax.com, Kartoo.com, and Yippy.com have no ability to filter out adult content.

Disclaimer: Changes may occur to web pages over time that may make some of these instructions inaccurate. The ability to turn on “Safe Searching” however, will still likely be a feature that most all search engines and meta-directories will support.



**This article cannot be reprinted without written permission from the author.