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Category: Stuff for Your Brain

Around the World Online With Kids

The world is a big and exciting place, filled with adventure and ideas. The world is also more and more online. Even though you explore Earth with your fingertips, the reality of kids in other lands and their online experiences may surprise you.

CHINA
The largest country on Earth has the most people online. 800 million people in China use the Internet, but that makes sense because it has the most people living there. The Chinese also see a different online world than other people, because the government controls Internet searches and there are some websites that the Chinese government keeps from coming up when people do a Google search. This is a problem that companies still fight about.

Kids in China mostly use QQ or WeChat to connect with their friends. Unlike kids in the US, Canada or most countries in Europe, kids tend to use the Internet for school or to chat with small groups of friends. Kids in China also know that too much Internet can hurt their school marks and keep them from being who they want to be when they grow up.

INDIA
If you are between the ages of 8 and 13 and live in India, you are probably using Snapchat to connect with your friends. Parents of those kids don’t like Snapchat because they can’t see what their children are sharing. Most parents think that they know what their kids do online, but about half of those kids disagree—those are kids who spend time online with activities their parents don’t know about.

To help protect kids, India has passed laws that make going online illegal for children under the age of 18. That has not stopped kids from signing up for Facebook and Google accounts. India is working hard as a country to better watch their children as they enter the online world.

NIGERIA
People in this West African country are quickly becoming huge Internet users. The biggest problem is that electricity isn’t always available. The power can go out a dozen times a day. Children lucky enough to have Internet service tend to concentrate on education, because for many, becoming educated will help them escape poverty. Unfortunately, many who are educated grow up to use the Internet for crime. Pretty much everyone online has come across a Nigerian scam. Hopefully, as more children get a good education, fewer will turn to scamming.

JAPAN
Japan has kids that spend so much time online, they are suffering from physical and mental problems. Many can’t sleep or concentrate, have problems eating and are becoming physically unfit, to name only a few of the symptoms. Doctor’s call this either Internet Use Disorder or Problematic Internet Use. Boys are more likely to have problems due to playing games online. Girls are more likely to have problems with messaging and social platforms.

Parents, doctors and school officials are looking for ways to help bring children back to the real world. Many Japanese parents are turning to camps where kids are put on an Internet “fast.” Instead of going online, children go outside and play, talk with each other and even go into counseling.

YOU
You are very lucky. You are reading this, so, obviously, you have a computer or a smart phone. You also have a good Internet connection. You can learn about our planet and can read different points of view. That isn’t the case for all kids in the world. Remember, life is much bigger than your social platform and friends. We can all learn from each other to better explore the Internet while living fun, happy lives in the real world.

The world is a big and exciting place, filled with adventure and ideas. The world is also more and more online. Even though you explore Earth with your fingertips, the reality of kids in other lands and their online experiences may surprise you.

CHINA
The largest country on Earth has the most people online. 800 million people in China use the Internet, but that makes sense because it has the most people living there. The Chinese also see a different online world than other people, because the government controls Internet searches and there are some websites that the Chinese government keeps from coming up when people do a Google search. This is a problem that companies still fight about.

Kids in China mostly use QQ or WeChat to connect with their friends. Unlike kids in the US, Canada or most countries in Europe, kids tend to use the Internet for school or to chat with small groups of friends. Kids in China also know that too much Internet can hurt their school marks and keep them from being who they want to be when they grow up.

INDIA
If you are between the ages of 8 and 13 and live in India, you are probably using Snapchat to connect with your friends. Parents of those kids don’t like Snapchat because they can’t see what their children are sharing. Most parents think that they know what their kids do online, but about half of those kids disagree—those are kids who spend time online with activities their parents don’t know about.

To help protect kids, India has passed laws that make going online illegal for children under the age of 18. That has not stopped kids from signing up for Facebook and Google accounts. India is working hard as a country to better watch their children as they enter the online world.

NIGERIA
People in this West African country are quickly becoming huge Internet users. The biggest problem is that electricity isn’t always available. The power can go out a dozen times a day. Children lucky enough to have Internet service tend to concentrate on education, because for many, becoming educated will help them escape poverty. Unfortunately, many who are educated grow up to use the Internet for crime. Pretty much everyone online has come across a Nigerian scam. Hopefully, as more children get a good education, fewer will turn to scamming.

JAPAN
Japan has kids that spend so much time online, they are suffering from physical and mental problems. Many can’t sleep or concentrate, have problems eating and are becoming physically unfit, to name only a few of the symptoms. Doctor’s call this either Internet Use Disorder or Problematic Internet Use. Boys are more likely to have problems due to playing games online. Girls are more likely to have problems with messaging and social platforms.

Parents, doctors and school officials are looking for ways to help bring children back to the real world. Many Japanese parents are turning to camps where kids are put on an Internet “fast.” Instead of going online, children go outside and play, talk with each other and even go into counseling.

YOU
You are very lucky. You are reading this, so, obviously, you have a computer or a smart phone. You also have a good Internet connection. You can learn about our planet and can read different points of view. That isn’t the case for all kids in the world. Remember, life is much bigger than your social platform and friends. We can all learn from each other to better explore the Internet while living fun, happy lives in the real world.

Wally and Wuzzy

Social media can be fun, but can feel strangely cold. Time spent in the real world with friends can make you stronger and happier. See how a furry friend made a difference in a boy’s life even after the puppy was gone.

Wally was tiny,
born quiet and calm.
People made him feel funny,
Made him run to his mom.

Strange kids made him cry
And new places were scary
And any adventures
Made poor wee Willy wary.

His mom and dad wanted to find him a friend,
A buddy to help him grow up.
They went to the pound, took a good look around—
and brought Wally a fuzzy, cute pup.

He called the pup Wuzzy and loved him a lot.
With Wuzzy, wee Wally felt strong.
Other kids came a running,
They asked Wally questions,
And Wally could hang all day long.

Wally and Wuzzy grew up as a team.
Wuzzy helped Wally make pals.
After years little Wally got older and cooler,
He made good friends with guys and—GASP—gals!

But his best bud of all was his fuzzy old friend
Who stood by his side those hard years.
But Wuzzy got older and soon life made him tired.
Wuzzy had spent his dog years.

And one hard, dark day, the vet checked Wuzzy’s heart,
And said Wuzzy’s last day had arrived.
With tears and with anger, with a huge aching soul,
Wally kissed his dear friend good-bye.

For the first time in years Wally’s felt all alone.
He tapped out his grief in a post.
“My best friend is gone and has left me so empty,
I feel like a sad, living ghost.”

Replies started coming.
Some typed “Buck up, pal.”
Others said, “Chill.”
Others just wrote, “Feel so bad.”
But the words were just letters
Typed out on a screen.
And they left teenage Wally still sad.

The postings, he thought, were meant to be kind,
But something about them felt cold.
His missed his warm Wuzzy, his muzzle and tongue
And how his dear friend had made him bold.

He logged off his computer and braved the outdoors.
He went to where Wuzzy had played.
A friend ran to him, heard his sad story
And shared his dog—Flip–for the day.

Wally liked his computer and going on-line,
But knew that when life felt this low,
Postings and likes were okay for a while,
But really didn’t ease his deep woe.

Going out to the park, watching other dogs play
Seeing people who loved Wuzzy, too,
Made Wally feel like he belonged in the world.
Their memories, pictures and stories so true
Filled Wally with strength and made him feel bold.
The real world that he shared with his pal
Touched him from his bones to his heart.
Time spent together remembered and shared
Meant that the two would never be apart.

Life on-line was fun, that was true,
But dog breath and tongue licks and
Catching thrown balls
Were better than posting and likes for his wall.

Wuzzy was never on-line in his life.
He never once posted or hit the button to “like.”

But Wally will spend the rest of his days
Remembering the buddy who made him feel brave.

Wally and Wuzzy
By T.S. Paulgaard

Social media can be fun, but can feel strangely cold. Time spent in the real world with friends can make you stronger and happier. See how a furry friend made a difference in a boy’s life even after the puppy was gone.

Wally was tiny,
born quiet and calm.
People made him feel funny,
Made him run to his mom.

Strange kids made him cry
And new places were scary
And any adventures
Made poor wee Willy wary.

His mom and dad wanted to find him a friend,
A buddy to help him grow up.
They went to the pound, took a good look around—
and brought Wally a fuzzy, cute pup.

He called the pup Wuzzy and loved him a lot.
With Wuzzy, wee Wally felt strong.
Other kids came a running,
They asked Wally questions,
And Wally could hang all day long.

Wally and Wuzzy grew up as a team.
Wuzzy helped Wally make pals.
After years little Wally got older and cooler,
He made good friends with guys and—GASP—gals!

But his best bud of all was his fuzzy old friend
Who stood by his side those hard years.
But Wuzzy got older and soon life made him tired.
Wuzzy had spent his dog years.

And one hard, dark day, the vet checked Wuzzy’s heart,
And said Wuzzy’s last day had arrived.
With tears and with anger, with a huge aching soul,
Wally kissed his dear friend good-bye.

For the first time in years Wally’s felt all alone.
He tapped out his grief in a post.
“My best friend is gone and has left me so empty,
I feel like a sad, living ghost.”

Replies started coming.
Some typed “Buck up, pal.”
Others said, “Chill.”
Others just wrote, “Feel so bad.”
But the words were just letters
Typed out on a screen.
And they left teenage Wally still sad.

The postings, he thought, were meant to be kind,
But something about them felt cold.
His missed his warm Wuzzy, his muzzle and tongue
And how his dear friend had made him bold.

He logged off his computer and braved the outdoors.
He went to where Wuzzy had played.
A friend ran to him, heard his sad story
And shared his dog—Flip–for the day.

Wally liked his computer and going on-line,
But knew that when life felt this low,
Postings and likes were okay for a while,
But really didn’t ease his deep woe.

Going out to the park, watching other dogs play
Seeing people who loved Wuzzy, too,
Made Wally feel like he belonged in the world.
Their memories, pictures and stories so true
Filled Wally with strength and made him feel bold.
The real world that he shared with his pal
Touched him from his bones to his heart.
Time spent together remembered and shared
Meant that the two would never be apart.

Life on-line was fun, that was true,
But dog breath and tongue licks and
Catching thrown balls
Were better than posting and likes for his wall.

Wuzzy was never on-line in his life.
He never once posted or hit the button to “like.”

But Wally will spend the rest of his days
Remembering the buddy who made him feel brave.

Wally and Wuzzy
By T.S. Paulgaard

Let’s Talk Fashion!

Fashion for Kids

What’s hot in fashion this season? What outfits are all the cool kids wearing? Can you show the world who you are by what shirt you put on? Let’s talk about it. First, there’s something very important that you need to know.

When you grow up you will look at what you are wearing now and roll your eyes or burst out laughing. Sure, you can wear loose pants that threaten to fall off, but when you get older, you’ll wonder why you did.

But don’t dress to please an older, wiser version of you. Dress for now. Wear what fits the day you are living. But always think about these points:

  • Your clothes should let you live your life. You run, jump, sit, catch balls, eat, walk. Your clothes should let you do those activities. When you try on pants, walk around in them. Sit down in them. Do you still feel comfortable? If you don’t, try on a different pair. Does your new shirt let you reach over your head? If so, you’ve picked the right shirt. Fashion doesn’t matter when it won’t let you be you.
  • Your clothes need to fit the weather. Face it, you would look pretty silly wearing a windbreaker in a snow storm. You could also get sick. If you wear a big puffy coat on a hot day, you’ll be sticky and sweaty and might even get weak from the heat. When you dress to fit Mother Nature, you can enjoy the world. Check weather reports or listen to what your parents say about weather conditions.
  • Really think about the heroes and statements you wear on your t-shirts. When you wear a famous face, you tell the world that you admire this person. Beware. Many people whose faces are printed on shirts are not all that admirable. A good example is Lance Armstrong. For many, many years Lance was a hero to people. He won international bicycle races and an Olympic medal. He also fought cancer and won, which is admirable. In time, the truth came out. Lance had cheated to win his races and medals. He is no longer considered a hero or role model. So what should you do? Read up on people before wearing them on your body. Talk to your parents. Look for real heroes.
  • Always wear shoes you can run in. Color doesn’t matter. Style is up to you. They don’t even have to be officially running shoes. The important fact is this: If you can run in your shoes, you will have more fun and be safer. If you can run in your shoes, you can dance, play ball, quickly help a friend, carry grocery bags and move! Good shoes give you freedom.
  • Dress for the occasion. You wouldn’t shovel snow in a bathing suit. You wouldn’t wear a snow suit to play basketball. When you visit your grandparents or open your first bank account or visit a friend in the hospital, some fashion will make others feel uncomfortable. When you dress for the event, people won’t be staring at the funny fashion you have on. They’ll be looking at you.

What is fashion? Is it what your favorite rapper wears or what you see on the cover of magazines? Yes, but fashion is also what you put on every morning. Don’t let fashion rule you. Rock fashion yourself.

What’s hot in fashion this season? What outfits are all the cool kids wearing? Can you show the world who you are by what shirt you put on? Let’s talk about it. First, there’s something very important that you need to know.

When you grow up you will look at what you are wearing now and roll your eyes or burst out laughing. Sure, you can wear loose pants that threaten to fall off, but when you get older, you’ll wonder why you did.

But don’t dress to please an older, wiser version of you. Dress for now. Wear what fits the day you are living. But always think about these points:

  • Your clothes should let you live your life. You run, jump, sit, catch balls, eat, walk. Your clothes should let you do those activities. When you try on pants, walk around in them. Sit down in them. Do you still feel comfortable? If you don’t, try on a different pair. Does your new shirt let you reach over your head? If so, you’ve picked the right shirt. Fashion doesn’t matter when it won’t let you be you.
  • Your clothes need to fit the weather. Face it, you would look pretty silly wearing a windbreaker in a snow storm. You could also get sick. If you wear a big puffy coat on a hot day, you’ll be sticky and sweaty and might even get weak from the heat. When you dress to fit Mother Nature, you can enjoy the world. Check weather reports or listen to what your parents say about weather conditions.
  • Really think about the heroes and statements you wear on your t-shirts. When you wear a famous face, you tell the world that you admire this person. Beware. Many people whose faces are printed on shirts are not all that admirable. A good example is Lance Armstrong. For many, many years Lance was a hero to people. He won international bicycle races and an Olympic medal. He also fought cancer and won, which is admirable. In time, the truth came out. Lance had cheated to win his races and medals. He is no longer considered a hero or role model. So what should you do? Read up on people before wearing them on your body. Talk to your parents. Look for real heroes.
  • Always wear shoes you can run in. Color doesn’t matter. Style is up to you. They don’t even have to be officially running shoes. The important fact is this: If you can run in your shoes, you will have more fun and be safer. If you can run in your shoes, you can dance, play ball, quickly help a friend, carry grocery bags and move! Good shoes give you freedom.
  • Dress for the occasion. You wouldn’t shovel snow in a bathing suit. You wouldn’t wear a snow suit to play basketball. When you visit your grandparents or open your first bank account or visit a friend in the hospital, some fashion will make others feel uncomfortable. When you dress for the event, people won’t be staring at the funny fashion you have on. They’ll be looking at you.

What is fashion? Is it what your favorite rapper wears or what you see on the cover of magazines? Yes, but fashion is also what you put on every morning. Don’t let fashion rule you. Rock fashion yourself.

Elephants In The Sky & The Man On The Moon

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.