What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that SweetSearch is a search engine for students that pulls from 35,000 pre-screened websites to ensure results are valid and credible sources of information. However, among the approved sites are college and university publications, where student writers sometimes publish articles with discussions of drug and alcohol use, descriptions of sexual acts, and profanity. In addition, kids could encounter crime scene photos or disturbing historical images on some of the sites.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
- using supporting evidence
- historical figures
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- collecting data
- thinking critically
- academic development
- working efficiently
Engagement, Approach, Support
The design may be simple, but there's no reason curious kids wouldn't use the site to look up topics on an ongoing basis. However, describing search results in a more concise sentence or two would make the content clearer.
Searches provide links to mostly reputable, in-depth websites. More activities and info on finding and evaluating sources are needed to help kids build strong research skills.
The site is easy to navigate but doesn't offer much in the way of help or feedback. Additional features for students with special needs would make the tool more accessible.
What's it about?
SWEETSEARCH is a trustworthy online information source. The 35,000 sites that appear in search results have been reviewed to confirm their content is accurate and appropriate for student researchers. Most of what kids will find through SweetSearch is age appropriate, although news and educational sites could lead them to images of war and suffering. Searching is pretty much all you can do. The site's design is very simple, and the only other information comes from a few homepage links, which leads to sites like SweetSearch2Day, a daily selection of news, history, and other info, and SweetSource4Me, a search engine for younger kids.
Is it any good?
SweetSearch provides middle and high school kids with a search engine that suggests safe, relevant site options. Research experts, librarians, and teachers have proactively reviewed the 35,000 sites that may appear in search results to ensure they're a reliable information source. Some options are from findingDulcinea, which was created with a similar goal by the same company; others are reputable sites from organizations like the University of Colorado, the New York Times, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Though sites are pre-screened, kids can still encounter opinion pieces and less credible articles. Kids should continue to use critical thinking skills while gathering research with SweetSearch.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about using search engines to find information online. How can you tell if what you find out is from a credible source?
Discuss the difference between someone's opinion and fact. If you find information on a website that isn't from a reputable source, should you check another site to see if the information is true?
Why would it be a good idea to use a site like SweetSearch to look for information instead of another search engine? What kind of sites might you find that aren't okay for kids?