Effective advice for online searches and kid safety

July 28, 2015

The internet is a great tool for looking up almost anything, but it can be daunting and difficult to navigate. These practical pointers will streamline your searches and keep young ones safe.

Effective advice for online searches and kid safety

Become a search whiz

When looking for information on the internet, your aim should be to define your search as narrowly as possible to generate the best and most appropriate results.

  • Limit yourself to 4 or 5 keywords. Any more than that and you risk narrowing your results too much.
  • Use quotes. If you put double quotes around a phrase, the search engine will prioritize hits where those words occur together. This is useful if you want something with a very specific name, like a particular product or the title of a movie or book. Quotes are also helpful if your search naturally takes the form of a phrase, such a line of a poem that you want to identify.
  • Exclude certain words. Sometimes a search can be overwhelmed by sites that contain the right word in the wrong context. If you're searching for a guitar shop in the Ontario city of London, you'll get lots of results for London, England. You can exclude these by adding words you don't want to the search field and putting a minus sign in front of them, for example "-England" and "-UK."

Keep kids safe online

Take these simple steps to make the Web a safe place for children to explore.

  • Place the computer somewhere where you can keep an eye on it and anyone using it. There's no substitute for real-life supervision.
  • Monitor the child's Internet use by using the "History" function in the web browser. This is a complete list of all the sites that have been accessed recently. Keep in mind that a reasonably adept user (that is, any teenager) will know how to disable or edit the History list.
  • Make use of the "Content Advisor" that comes with many operating systems. From the Start menu, open the Control Panel. Select Network and Internet, and then Internet Options. In the Internet Properties dialogue box click on the Content tab, then the Enable button under Content Advisor. Click the Ratings tab and use the slider to set a level of access that excludes categories such as nudity, depiction of weapon use, and so forth. You'll be asked to create a supervisor password so that only you can amend the settings.
  • Many internet browsers have a built-in content filter, but you can also buy software that filters inappropriate content, blocks access to chat sites, and creates an activity log that only the nominated supervisor can access. Some such programs can also be installed on internet-enabled cell phones.

It's easy to have an enriching and informative experience on the web. Follow these tips to jump start your searches and create a customized and appropriate experience for young ones online.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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