Search engines index websites equally and if you have been using them for any length of time, you know that it is very likely that certain keywords you use will mix references to adult websites along with safe websites. This is a potentially dangerous situation for your children. How do you protect your children from the undesired results of internet search engines while preserving the useful search capabilities? Let’s look at a few ways:

Use a child-safe search engine. These are search engines focused on helping your child get homework done, playing games, listening to music, and searching for movie information—all at a child-safe level. Some of these search engines are named Yahoo!Kids,, Ask Jeeves Kids, and Google Safesearch for kids.

Turn on moderate or explicit safe searching on search engine preferences. On many of the major search engines as well as the alternative ones, you can set a preference referred to as moderate safe search where sexually-explicit images are filtered when doing an image search. Or, you can set explicit safe searching to do this filtering on both images and explicit text. The only problem is that these preferences are not protected with a password so your kids can alter them if they like.

Use content filtering software at the machine level. These are Windows programs that you purchase and install on your machine. Usually, they have an option that allows you to set a password and without it, no one can stop the program or unload it from the system. This software usually is not free and can get quite expensive if you have to protect your kids on multiple machines.

Use a proxy web service with filtering software. There are companies that run proxy servers with filtering software at that level. You sign up for the service and once you follow their configuration instructions, your web connections go to their proxy servers and in turn they interact with the search engines. It is not always guaranteed that a search will not list return the links to sites that are not safe for your children but most likely your child will not be able to click through because the end site is recorded at the proxy server level.

Be a proactive parent. You can allow your children to have e-mail addresses but you should make it a rule for them to provide their username and password. You might ask what e-mail has to do with protecting your children from search engines. If your child is logged into their Gmail account and searching for information or visiting websites that he or she should not, you can find this out by looking at the spam mail received. Remember that websites like Google like to use behavioral targeting and if your child is logged in to his or her Gmail account then their browsing habits can be linked to their name.

The best protection is putting the computer in a family viewing area. Sometimes the best way to protect your children is also the most inexpensive and simplest to implement. Many experts agree that by putting the computer your children use in a common family area that there is less likelihood that they will become the victims of unsafe searches on the internet or visit websites that are not child-safe.

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