Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why my son is searching through Bing rather than Google?

My eldest, Basheer, is 9 years old. And, as with all 9 year olds he has a inquisitive mind. Along with his 2 younger siblings I get bombarded with all sorts of questions on a minute-by-minute basis. Sometimes it gets annoying especially when I really don’t know the answer to some of the questions. Last week after “how do they catch lions for the zoo?”, “what is the latest mobile brand” and “how big are whales and what do they eat?” I decided I should steer him towards the Internet and let him get his own answers.

Being a Microsoft fan (that’s an understatement!), I immediately thought of Bing as the default search engine (seeing as it is already the default engine on his iPod), but then I thought realistically at what arguments there are for Bing against Google, and that is why I decided to write this post.

To cut to the chase, the main reason I chose Bing over Google for my son is (drumroll!) parental control.

Yes, parental control. Let me explain. When searching the Internet, one (especially kids) usually searches for images on the said subject. Needless to say, the images (and a lot of the written material) returned are not always exactly ‘children material’. For example, take the simple term ‘miniskirt’, when searching using Bing, I get the results shown in the image below, which to me, a parent, are perfect. Now, try this same search using Google, and the results are a lot higher up on the PG rating, to say the least.

image

The reason Bing is blocking these images is because we live in Kuwait, a Muslim country and under Kuwaiti law, such images are prohibited. Therefore, Bing automatically switches ‘SafeSearch’ on, and you cannot switch it off, believe me, I’ve tried. While this may be frustrating and considered a hampering of freedom for some adults, it is absolutely wonderful for concerned parents.

Google on the other hand does not switch ‘SafeSearch’ on automatically, and if it does, you can easily switch it off with relative ease (yes, even Basheer can do it).

So you see, this is why I guided Basheer to Bing rather than Google when searching on the Internet.

What do you think?