A brief introduction to Google SafeSearch


Imagine the scene; One of the kids asks if they can use the computer to research their art homework. They have to make a jug out of clay and have absolutely no idea how they are going to do it. “Can you Google it for me?” “Sure” you say, “why not”.

So you both sit down at the computer, bring up Google and type in ‘Jugs’. You hit the search button and, without looking at the results, click on the Images button. About a millisecond later you try in vain to close down your Google search in an attempt to shield young eyes from some very, very inappropriate imagery.

One of the biggest concerns amongst parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles  is how easy it can be for children to view adult material online. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not suggesting that children the world over are actively looking for pornographic material, far from it. What I am suggesting is that, just like the scenario above, even the most innocent of Google searches can sometimes bring them into contact with some very inappropriate pictures. But don’t panic!! The clever people at Google have a solution to this problem already available – Google SafeSearch – and the best thing about it is that it won’t cost a penny to use. It is completely free and will only take a few minutes of your time to get up and running

  • So What is Google SafeSearch?

In a nutshell, Google SafeSearch is a filter which is designed to block adult content, and by adult content we mean pornography. In their own words they say it “provides you with the ability to change your browser setting to prevent adult content from appearing in your search results”. How does it do this? ”Google uses automated methods to identify objectionable content, and constantly works to improve those methods based on user feedback. For sexually explicit content, our filter mainly relies on algorithms that look at many factors, including keywords, links and images”.

  • Can we have that in English please?

Of course. Basically what happens is that Google’s computers ‘look’ at webpages and decide whether or not they contain adult content. They do this by looking at words that appear in the webpages, look at the names of pictures and look at what other websites the page links to. If it contains words such as ‘porn’ or ‘XXX’, or if it links to other obvious adult sites then it will be blocked from appearing in your search results. Even if the webpage has no adult content at all but has links to another site with explicit material then it will still be blocked.

  • Does it work?

Most of the time, yes. But not all the time. Google admit as much - ”No filter is 100 percent accurate, but SafeSearch should help you avoid most of this type of material”.

Even filters used in schools and by businesses usually advertise themselves as effective for 90% of the time – and these filters cost a LOT of money! Every now and again something may slip through the filter and appear in your results but all you would need to do is report this to Google and it shouldn’t appear again. I’d always suggest putting it to the test before letting the kids loose on Google (in the most appropriate way possible, of course) – terms like ‘sex’ may bring up some questionable sites and images, ‘nudity’ and ‘naked’ will also bring back some borderline pictures but all 3 terms clearly state what is being requested. If they are looking for this kind of material, a filter will only do so much…

  • So how do I get this SafeSearch thing to work?

Google have very kindly shared a guide on how to set up SafeSearch which you can view here. But, if you feel less than confident and want a helping hand, why not get in touch and let us do the hard work for you, without having to leave the comfort of your own home!

Why not contact us here today



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