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November 11, 2009

Google Parental Controls: Lock SafeSearch

As previously anticipated, Google added a feature that lets you lock SafeSearch filtering. Google says that "SafeSearch screens for sites that contain explicit sexual content and deletes them from your search results".

SafeSearch could be easily disabled from Google's preferences page, so now parents have an additional safeguard: locking SafeSearch. Go to the search preferences page, click on "lock SafeSearch", log in to your Google account and wait until Google sets cookies for almost 200 domains.

"When you lock SafeSearch, two things will change. First, you'll need to enter your password to change the setting. Second, the Google search results page will be visibly different to indicate that SafeSearch is locked. Even from across the room, the colored balls give parents and teachers a clear visual cue that SafeSearch is still locked. And if you don't see them, it's quick and easy to verify and re-lock SafeSearch," explains Google.

The feature may seem clever, but it's not: you need to lock SafeSearch for all the browsers installed on your computer and for all the user accounts that might be used by your children. Another issue is that the lock can be easily disabled: just clear your browser's cookies. The colored balls are cute though, especially in a family-friendly context.


  1. Option 1: You can tell your kid what Internet is really about and prepare him/her for what's next to come in his/her grown up life.

    Option 2: Try to block everything you don't like.
    Option 2.1: You fail, your kid see everything you didn't wanted him/her to see, unprepared.
    Option 2.2: You block successfully everything. Your kid hates you; watch porn at their friend's house and your relationship is now defined by a hide and seek game.

    But we all love the colored balls...

  2. "you need to lock SafeSearch for all the browsers installed on your computer..."

    Not just browsers, what about other search engines?

  3. Could do with a way to lock it without an account somehow. Man schools get annoying "how do we stop the kids turning safesearch off?!" :(

  4. Google rocks, that's all I have to say. It is no wonder why they are N1 and will be for a long time.

  5. This is pointless because if you open up an "incognito" window it doesn't filter anything. All a kid would have to do is open up an incognito window and google's parental controls are useless.

  6. Its true that incognito window does help protect safesearch since no cookies are saved on browsing throuth it.Google may come out shortly with a feature locking the use of incognito window.

    well its an appreciable attempt.

  7. Why not do a network-level configuration? has safesearch permanently switched on. Then block other search engines at the network level?

    Maybe that precise approach won't work, but you get the idea - I think Bing does something similar with its video search.

  8. I LOVE it, I don't use it for my 14 year old- I figure he will find ways around it anyway however my 6 and 8 year old wouldn't cope very well when googling images of "pussies" and thinking they were going to get cute little kittens and being shown graphic porn instead. My girls still believe in Santa and the toothfairy.....Thanks Google

  9. I know this is an old blog post but I too was looking for a way to lock the Safe Search thing in Google. I think I have found a solution. I didn't really want to open a google account just to lock safe search. Not to mention my kids are smart and can easily delete the cookie which says you are logged in. I came across this software which does the job:
    It doesn't just work with Google, but also Bing, YouTube, Yahoo and lots of others too. I am still testing the free trial version but its looking good. Definitely worth trying out.

  10. I can second SafeSearchLock. Another mother recommended it and it works perfectly. Obviously I still keep an eye on what the kids are looking at (as all parents should) but it gives them a bit more freedom and a bit more confidence to search for things without worrying. They see the little icon in the corner and know they have that extra protection.
    As Shaun mentions above it works with Google , Flickr , DuckDuckGo , Ask Jeeves etc. too - their web site shows a full list. Parents and schools should definitely look into it.


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