Search engines like Google are key tools for young people – they’re often the first port of call when they want to find out about something for school or that’s in the news, for example. They simply type in a keyword and a long list of relevant websites to support their homework, hobbies or friendships appears on the screen.
It’s so much easier than wading through books and newspapers and search can now be done from mobiles, games consoles and other portable devices, as well as the family computer. They can even search just for pictures, video or audio content.
Whilst the internet offers a huge online library and all the benefits that go with it, you might be concerned that your son or daughter could be exposed to unsuitable or illegal material online, even if they are searching on a seemingly harmless keyword or subject.
Many of the leading search engines have recognised this potential risk and offer personalised search options that you can set for younger internet users.Google SafeSearchscreens for websites that contain explicit sexual content and deletes them from your search results and lets you “lock” the search filters in place on your family’s computer. You can also choose to use search engines that have been designed specifically for younger internet users, likeYahoo ligans.
No internet filter is 100% accurate but setting up Safe Search or using a specialist search engine on your family’s computer should help to eliminate most inappropriate and harmful content.
At the same time, your children might create and post their own content – on social networking and video-sharing websites, for example – so they need to be aware that this will be available for other internet users to find online via a search engine, unless they set their profile to ‘private’.