New tool for keeping Web searches safe

By Anne Collier

A few simple household rules can help kids at your house avoid stumbling upon inappropriate Web content: 1. If you’re not absolutely sure of a URL, don’t just type it into the browser window. Use a search engine. 2. Use only our family’s search-engine pick (one that offers filtered search). 3. Nobody changes the settings or preferences in the search engine. We’ve had these rules at our house for years, and they’ve worked great (we’re fortunate to have a pretty rule-abiding crew). But now one search engine, Google, has made family rule compliance a lot easier: It has a new feature that lets parents lock the computers kids use into the strictest SafeSearch setting (as long as Google’s the search-engine pick, of course). All parents need to do is log into their Google account on any computer the kids use, click on Settings, then Search Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the page. On the page that takes you to, scroll down to SafeSearch Filtering and click “Lock SafeSearch.” The rest will be clear. But here’s a little 95-sec. demo. The only thing to remember is that you need to do this with any browser used on that computer – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc. This is a lighter touch with parental controls that might be a good place to start (and some parents may find it meets their household adult-content-blocking needs). We’ve found that tech tools are best used when layered on top of parent-child discussions about what is and isn’t appropriate for our family and why. Here’s Google’s Help page on the locking tool.

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