Sunday, December 12, 2010


Such a complex and far-reaching subject.  For now, I'll just touch on a few options.

Safe Search Engine
For the youngest surfers, a safe option is KidRex (  This is technically a Google custom search engine but it is touted as "safe search for kids, by kids."  When searches are conducted, advertisements appear at the top of the page as well as in the right margin, however, unlike a traditional Google search, the ads are clearly marked in bold "Ads by Google" and appear in boxes.  The hits appear in "safesearch on"  mode.  On the splash page, the search box is large and easy to identify; the type is large and easy to read.  These are terrific accessibility points for younger readers.

Social Networking Sites
The quest for "friends" online will lead most kids to social networking sites like Facebook.  The pitfalls for children include bullying and personal safety concerns.  Parents are the first line of defense in the social networking world.  If you have decided to let your tween or teen have an account, the Federal Trade Commission offers advice and resources for ensuring child security ( at their OnGuard Online site.  The FTC site also includes games like "Friend Finder" and "The Case of the Cyber Criminal" to graphically drive their safety lessons home.

The American Library Association (ALA) put together a 23 minute video for Choose Privacy Week that includes visual examples of why it is important to watch what you put on social networking sites (and other Internet sites); the video is available on Vimeo (

Media Message Overload
In "Media Meltdown: A Graphic Guide Adventure," Orca Publishing offers a graphic novel about weeding out the advertisements online.  If you don't have the book, you can still play games, find out what you can do, download free stuff, and get teacher resources.  Certainly, being able to conduct a search and recognize what sites are paid advertisements or are sponsored by interested parties is part of media and information literacy.  This site ( provides a starting point or additional resources for media literacy training.

Cyber Safety
The National Security Agency created CryptoKids: America's Future Codemakers and Codebreakers (  The site includes games, with badges awarded, that support the National Cryptologic Museum.  But they've included cyber-safety games as well.

And last, but not least, PBS Kids created Webonauts Internet Academy (  Cyber safety is the theme of the challenge to graduate from the Academy.  Although the site is intended for students aged 8-10 years, it could appeal to younger students with assistance and even older students for whom cyber safety is a new lesson.  I think this is a remarkable resource for teaching Internet safety in an engaging way that will reinforce the lessons in a memorable way.  Don't miss this one!

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