Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Interweb Thingy?

Teacher trying to keep track of two sets of triplets. (image from AP)

It’s important that kids stay away from certain strangers, but it’s also just as important to teach them how to carefully select and interact with other strangers. Knowing when to do so, could prove very useful. A child who only knows not to talk to strangers can become quite confused if lost in an airport, for example. But a child who’s been taught to stay close to where they were and look for someone who works there, might happen to be reconnected to his parents sooner.

The same goes with the internet. We need to teach kids how to use the tools that are available. Google, Bing, and other major search engines can be scary to some as we know, but they both have filters we can set, and if students learn how to narrow their search, the results can become more meaningful. We wouldn’t use a Phillips screwdriver to drive a nail into a wall (unless we really needed to), so why would we use the same search engine?

If I wanted to find an article related to a specific area in teaching, I might use a database through the Seattle Public Library. Itt’s free if you have a library card and pin number, and the database contains most prominent education journals.  scholar.google.com is good for using google as it produces more articles.

For images, I much prefer bing to google (if either would let you view the images as a slideshow without external software, that be great!) There’s also picsearch and  Zuula. AP has a fantastic image database, but it requires a pay membership (or if you’re resourceful, go through the Seattle Public Library Database for free access). One of my favorites is a royalty free gallery of older images from the NY Public Library.

image from the NY Public Library image archive

Also, what works for one person, may not work as well for another person. Same with kids. Their search styles are going to be different than ours. I read that youtube is the first search many kids make. We also need to teach kids to vet their sources too. The quality of the source is not how google ranks its top hits. However if you really want some fun and someone asks you a question you think they should be able to search for themselves, you should send them to lmgtfy.com. Click here, I think you’ll find it pretty amusing.

I’ll list a bunch of great kid search sites in a future post.

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