What’s important for me, as a parent of an 8 year old in third grade and a two year old is that the search engine they use is a safe one. But it needs to be a search engine that kids want to use. Ask Kids gives kids a great search experience. After using it a few times this morning, I can see that it has more relevant, kid-friendly search results than any other search engine. And the search results are presented is an interesting, pleasing, graphically-vivid display–better than any other search engine. In fact, it makes Google look sort of “bland”.
What’s great about this new kids search engine is that it’s more “click friendly” than “type friendly”. If you have kids and you’ve ever watched them use a search engine to find something, you’ll know that kids are not very good at typing. In fact, they’re terrible at typing. But, even my 2 year old can use a mouse. According to Ask.com, the Ask Kids search engine was built with this in mind: you don’t have to type that much in order to get good search results. Let’s take a look at the search results.
I did a search for the word Texas at Ask Kids to see what would find. Right there, front and center, you get the stats for Texas:
Governor: Rick Perry (R)
Capital: Austin; Population: 22,490,022
Statehood: December 29, 1845 – 28th state admitted
Nickname: Lone Star State; Motto: Friendship
State Bird: Mockingbird; Flower: Bluebonnet; Tree: Pecan
State Song: Texas, Our Texas
What’s also good is that there are many places to click: you don’t have to actually type again to find what you’re looking for. You can click on over to the official State of Texas website, you can look at images on the right, and you can even narrow or expand your search with related phrases. And, best of all, you can find out the time in Texas as well as the temperature in Austin, Texas.
What’s also interesting to me, though, is that Ask Kids has sponsored search results right in the middle of the screen, right below the stats for Texas:
I know Ask.com needs to monetize their search engine, but to put up sponsored results right there in the front and center like this? Do you really think that kids have the ability to support those sponsors? It just seems kind of odd to me that contextual ads (they appear to be from Google AdWords?) would be so prominent in the search results. I would expect banner ads to be there, not contextual ads.
Just as a test, I went ahead and searched for some keyword phrases that might bring up some “controversial” search results, just to see really if this all-new Ask Kids search engine is more “kid friendly” like they say it is. I searched for viagra. Do it yourself and tell me that this search result is “kid friendly”:
Should AskKids.com, supposedly the best “kid friendly” search engine show sponsored ads for Viagra? I realize that many kids will probably not be searching for Viagra at AskKids.com. But what about their actual search results. Are their organic, natural search results even on-topic for the keyword phrase that I searched for, Viagra? The number one search result for this search phrase is Nature.com. How ironic!