By Marian Arnold
So, Google Kiddle has just been launched… a child friendly search tool for kids and it is already causing quite a stir in the media.
The aim of Kiddle is to provide a search tool that satisfies family friendly requirements, filtering out sites with explicit or deceptive content. As part of the child friendly user experience, it uses big thumbnail imagery, large Arial fonts and follows strict privacy rules.
A brief play around with it using a child’s mind shows you can search quite happily for Peppa Pig and the like, but cannot enter certain ‘naughty’ words as you receive the error message.. ‘Oops, looks like your query contained some bad words. Please try again!’
Whilst banning certain ‘adult material’ makes perfect sense… controversially, the site bans words such as ‘gay’ and ‘bisexual’ … surely, as part of diversity and liberal 21st century thinking, one could argue there is an obligation to our children to allow them the resources to discover who they are for themselves without filtering out what we deem ‘suitable’?
Whilst Google have worked to a popular and manageable model of what is deemed child friendly, my feeling is that there are different versions of what is deemed ‘acceptable’ depending on the type of parent, religious beliefs or difference in moral or social standing on subjects such as sexuality. This will never be a ‘one glove fits all’ model.
On the flip side of this – how long will it be before we have a whole word of unsupervised advertising to minors and loopholes for questionable material to pour through? Worryingly, I can already see this as an advertisers wet dream… the Barbie manufacturers, junk food pluggers, minion pushers and (heaven forbid) less savoury characters rubbing their hands together already at the thought of capturing the attention of this young influential audience.
Is Google Kiddle all it’s made out to be?
Kiddle is new and shiny and it may seem a great idea but how safe is it really? Will parents neglect the usual safety checks on their child’s internet assuming Kiddle is safe for minors and will children still see things they shouldn’t once savvy marketers find a way through the net?
Only time will tell, but when your child starts demanding the latest Happy Meal toy or wanting an upgrade on their ipad, don’t say I didn’t warn you…Google have created this to make money from advertisers in the long run… not to put your child’s best interests at heart.
Forewarned is forearmed so make sure all is as it seems before trusting your precious baby to the world wide web… If I was a parent, personally I’d like flexible filters depending on age and personal views rather than Google deciding for me what it thinks my child would be allowed to see!