(This article has been revised from the original. For details, please scroll to the bottom of this article.)
Now, you no longer need to watch over your child’s shoulder while s/he is searching for something on the internet. Kiddle, a new customised search engine for children, uses a modified version of Google search to make such activities safe and age-appropriate for children. The search engine includes features like safe search, kid-oriented results, big thumbnails, large fonts, and modifiedprivacy settings. However, contrary to popular perception, this is not a product offering from Google.
Entering the search site, one finds Kiddle written in the characteristic colourful Google style, this time set not against the plain white of Google, but a colourful alien planet surface. There is also a red droid alien waiting to answer all your queries.
While the search interface is largely the same, with different search options including the usual web, images, news and videos, the search results are clearly modified for a younger audience. For example once you type Narendra Modi (in big blue fonts), in the search box, you would not have the PMO website, Modi’s twitter handles, the latest news on top or his Wikipedia page at the top, as is the usual case with standard Google. Instead, you would have list of links to Modi’s pages on biography.com, britannica.com, famousbirthdays.com etc. each of which would be accompanied by a large picture of the Indian Prime Minister.
The search results are also not as cluttered, and come well-spaced with a bigger font, easier for kids to read.
On its ‘About’ page, Kiddle also explains the logic behind its search results.
Safe sites and pages written specifically for kids, which will be handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors, would usually be featured in the first three results. The next rung would include safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way, easy for kids to understand.
Finally, after this would follow safe, famous sites that are written for adults, providing expert content, but are harder for kids to understand.
If the child the types something ‘unsuitable’ for kids, one of Kiddle’s aliend droids would come hob-nobbing with the message “Oops, looks like your query contained some bad words. Please try again!”
Lastly, Kiddle has also announced that they “don’t collect any personally identifiable information, and (their) logs are deleted every 24 hours”.
(An earlier version of this story incorrently said that Kiddle was an offering from Google. It is not. Kiddle is a privately launched search product that is only powered by Google safe search)