Friday, 23 September 2011

Alternatives to SafeSearchLock

As with any new product idea it is always best to look at what alternatives already exist in the market. SafeSearchLock doesn't really have any, after all - it would be a waste of time developing something which already exists! There are several types of product which are related to what SafeSearchLock does, but I will try and explain how we differ.
  1. Web Filtering Software. These are the kinds of packages which block Websites. They either rely on (a)downloading huge blacklists of bad sites, (b)putting all of the sites you browse through a third party server to check (and log and analyse) or (c)make the user create a 'whitelist' of good sites that can be accessed while blacklisting everything else. Depending upon the method used these can slow down Web browsing or require lots of setting up and frequent administration. They don't usually block sites at the search stage but rather after the user has clicked to access them. We saw this as a flaw, especially when it comes to image and video searching where unsavoury images or descriptions can be seen in search engines even before visiting a bad site. In addition, why should we (or you the user) have to update and administer a potentially huge list of sites when companies like Google and Bing with their massive resources have already done this for us? SafeSearchLock stops sites at the search stage so in most cases the user doesn't even become aware that the sites exist. SafeSearchLock has the technology inside to block sites using blacklists but we chose to keep it small, fast and specialised in one job, i.e. to make searching safe.
  2. Special Child Friendly Search Engines. The vast majority of these seem to be simply a front end to Google. They set the safesearch mode to strict and don't give the user the option of turning it off. Simple. Sadly this relies on the user never visiting any other search engine or going directly to Google. That is just not going to happen, especially when kids become aware of other search engines at school, from TV or from friends. SafeSearchLock works with all the leading search engines and other sites children like to visit.
  3. Special Child Safe Browsers. These can limit the search engines (or sites) available to the user. Unfortunately these rely on the user not switching to an alternative browser. For a start, almost every Windows OS comes with Internet Explorer preinstalled so that isn't going to be hard for kids to find and use. It is also not hard to find and download alternative browsers such as Firefox, Chrome or Safari. You may already have these installed on your computer. Another problem comes when children get a little older and should really be learning how to use the same software they use at school, at the library, at friends houses etc. and will go on to use at college or in the workplace. If they aren't familiar with using a proper full Web browser because the one they are forced to use at home works differently, they are instantly at a disadvantage. SafeSearchLock works with all the leading browsers so you don't have to make your children use something different to you.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I agree, kids simply want and expect to be able to use the same search engines and web browsers as parents do. IMHO making kids use something 'special' and different is a mistake many parents seem to make.

    Children should be allowed to experience and get used to using 'real life' online services but in a responsible way with suitable protection and supervision. This kind of approach will keep them safe whilst putting them in good standing for the future...