Common Sense Media says

Student search engine gives kids credible, relevant results.






What parents need to know

Positive messages

The site's search capabilities encourage kids to be inquisitive and proactive about learning.


Searches turn up WWII pre-execution photos, bayonet killings in 1937 in the Chinese Republic, and other fairly graphic fare. However, the images appear on history- and news-based sites and are mostly presented in a non-gratuitous manner.


Type "sex" in the search field, and you'll get results that involve animal reproductive habits, articles about banning sex offenders from libraries, and other news- and research-based content. However, search results aren't strictly filtered to remove sexual content, so with a little digging, kids can find more explicit discussions of sexual acts in online forums and in article comments.


Responses are typically academically based, but search for "s--t" or "f--k" and you'll get synonyms for the words on Thesaurus.com, articles with quotes involving the word, and other news items.


There are no ads on the site, but websites with significant advertising may show up in search results.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Kids can find articles that describe alcohol and drug use, though most information is factual -- not opinion based. However, SweetSearch pulls from many college and university publications, where recreational drug and alcohol use is sometimes freely discussed.

Privacy & safety

Kids can't directly connect through the site. However, sites that turn up in searches may have different comment and other interactive functionality and rules. Kids can also email or share their SweetSearch results through social media.

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

Social Studies

  • historical figures
  • events


Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • collecting data
  • thinking critically


  • working efficiently
  • academic development

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.

Learning Approach

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 kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • using supporting evidence

Social Studies

  • historical figures
  • events


Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • collecting data
  • thinking critically


  • working efficiently
  • academic development

Kids can learn about using credible online sources. SweetSearch only offers pre-screened sites in search results, and kids can access web search tips to learn why they should use verified sources and look for publication dates. Links to other sites in the SweetSearch network provide more than 1,000 biographies and information on writing one; info on what happened that day in history; and science, news, and vocabulary terms. SweetSearch supplies valid, reputable websites that can help kids learn about a variety of topics.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Parents say

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Kids say

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?

Website details

Pricing structure:Free

This review of SweetSearch was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old May 21, 2013

sweet search

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