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Category: Stuff for Your Brain

How to Have the Happiest Holiday Break!

School Holiday

Winter break is full of fun, food, friends and folks. AND of course – brightly wrapped gifts! It can also feel awkward. You could be spending time with people you don’t know very well. To make the time even worse, YOUR PARENTS WILL TELL YOU TO PUT YOUR SMARTPHONES AWAY! HORROR!

How do you spend time with these people — especially when you haven’t even seen their social media profile? What do you talk about? What do you do?

Relax. Here are some helpful ideas to make awkward real-life moments easier.

Ask your guests the same questions that you answer on social media. Remember when you made your social media page? You posted details like your favorite singer, your favorite movie, what books and sports you like. Talk to your guests about these topics. You will probably find out that you have a lot in common.

Being stuck in a house with your phones turned off can feel weird. Before your guests arrive, think of three things you can do with your company outside of the house. Skating, snow ball fights, walking to a near-by attraction, even showing your company your school.

Don’t worry about sounding lame. Your guests will probably feel relieved to be away from the adults for a short time. If you are going to be in a strange town or location, take time to look up sights in the area. Then, if time together starts to feel weird, you can come to the rescue.

Learn some magic tricks. With a plain deck of cards you can have people scratching their heads and in awe. You never know—you might have real talent for magic. Even if you don’t, you’ll have fun with the challenge.

Even if you aren’t allowed to use your computer or phone, you can still play games. You probably have a stack of board games hidden somewhere in a closet. Dig them out and learn the rules. Or get that deck of cards you used for magic tricks.

Before you hand your phone over to your parents, look up games you can easily teach your guests. There is something fun for every age and skill level.

Remember that no one is perfect. Everyone feels awkward from time to time. When you are together with relatives you don’t know very well, they are probably feeling like you are.

Time without your phone will feel funny. Just be yourself and let yourself have fun in the real world.

Winter break is full of fun, food, friends and folks. AND of course – brightly wrapped gifts! It can also feel awkward. You could be spending time with people you don’t know very well. To make the time even worse, YOUR PARENTS WILL TELL YOU TO PUT YOUR SMARTPHONES AWAY! HORROR!

How do you spend time with these people — especially when you haven’t even seen their social media profile? What do you talk about? What do you do?

Relax. Here are some helpful ideas to make awkward real-life moments easier.

Ask your guests the same questions that you answer on social media. Remember when you made your social media page? You posted details like your favorite singer, your favorite movie, what books and sports you like. Talk to your guests about these topics. You will probably find out that you have a lot in common.

Being stuck in a house with your phones turned off can feel weird. Before your guests arrive, think of three things you can do with your company outside of the house. Skating, snow ball fights, walking to a near-by attraction, even showing your company your school.

Don’t worry about sounding lame. Your guests will probably feel relieved to be away from the adults for a short time. If you are going to be in a strange town or location, take time to look up sights in the area. Then, if time together starts to feel weird, you can come to the rescue.

Learn some magic tricks. With a plain deck of cards you can have people scratching their heads and in awe. You never know—you might have real talent for magic. Even if you don’t, you’ll have fun with the challenge.

Even if you aren’t allowed to use your computer or phone, you can still play games. You probably have a stack of board games hidden somewhere in a closet. Dig them out and learn the rules. Or get that deck of cards you used for magic tricks.

Before you hand your phone over to your parents, look up games you can easily teach your guests. There is something fun for every age and skill level.

Remember that no one is perfect. Everyone feels awkward from time to time. When you are together with relatives you don’t know very well, they are probably feeling like you are.

Time without your phone will feel funny. Just be yourself and let yourself have fun in the real world.

Why Do People Post Fake News?

The world is buzzing with false media. Trolls are being investigated by police in the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Canada—in fact pretty much any country that has social media platforms. Britain has seen a wide variety of “missing kids” posts that receive lots of re-tweets and posts but turn out to be false.

The stress, panic and damage such posts cause to families and individuals can even be handled as a criminal matter. Why do people post false news?

Think about yourself. Suppose that you see two friends walking down the street. One girl–say, Linda–suddenly waves to a car that swerves over to let her in before swerving and speeding away. Later you hear that Linda didn’t show up at an after-school group. Nor has she posted anything on social media for hours. You start texting with a friend and after a few minutes you start to think Linda may have been kidnapped. You upload a post describing the last time you saw Linda and for a headline you type: Was Linda Kidnapped?

The headline is so striking, everyone clicks on it to read about Linda. Everybody who knows Linda shares the story and likes your post. You’ve never had so many hits on your page.

Studies have shown that likes and shares are the main reasons people post false or misleading news—they enjoy seeing the numbers climb higher than they’ve ever had before.

Meanwhile, Linda’s parents are freaking out. They try to call Linda and find her cell isn’t on. Only later, after frantic calls to the police who start a search and show up at your home to interview you, does Linda call home—she’d been at a swimming hole with her cousin and for three hours and didn’t have cell service.

This little story isn’t that far-fetched. People of all ages—not just kids—post stories not because they are true, but because the grim details get likes and shares. Major news sources do it because when more people click on their stories they can charge more for advertising. People do it to get more attention on social media.

How does this matter to you? Think about this: In some situations, people have been jailed for posting fake news. Some have been jailed simply for sharing fake news.  Worst of all, people have had to struggle through heart-ache and pain because someone posted fake information about their homes being burnt, about loved ones missing and killed.

More personally, if you are caught posting fake news, you will never be viewed as a real source ever again. People will read what you say and down-vote it. If you’ve been linked to false news, people will not believe what you post.

In these days of false news, multi-million dollar news outlets, from newspapers to globally-televised broadcast stations to top-rated website, all suffer when they report stories that fudge or play with facts. Don’t let that happen to you.

The world is buzzing with false media. Trolls are being investigated by police in the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Canada—in fact pretty much any country that has social media platforms. Britain has seen a wide variety of “missing kids” posts that receive lots of re-tweets and posts but turn out to be false.

The stress, panic and damage such posts cause to families and individuals can even be handled as a criminal matter. Why do people post false news?

Think about yourself. Suppose that you see two friends walking down the street. One girl–say, Linda–suddenly waves to a car that swerves over to let her in before swerving and speeding away. Later you hear that Linda didn’t show up at an after-school group. Nor has she posted anything on social media for hours. You start texting with a friend and after a few minutes you start to think Linda may have been kidnapped. You upload a post describing the last time you saw Linda and for a headline you type: Was Linda Kidnapped?

The headline is so striking, everyone clicks on it to read about Linda. Everybody who knows Linda shares the story and likes your post. You’ve never had so many hits on your page.

Studies have shown that likes and shares are the main reasons people post false or misleading news—they enjoy seeing the numbers climb higher than they’ve ever had before.

Meanwhile, Linda’s parents are freaking out. They try to call Linda and find her cell isn’t on. Only later, after frantic calls to the police who start a search and show up at your home to interview you, does Linda call home—she’d been at a swimming hole with her cousin and for three hours and didn’t have cell service.

This little story isn’t that far-fetched. People of all ages—not just kids—post stories not because they are true, but because the grim details get likes and shares. Major news sources do it because when more people click on their stories they can charge more for advertising. People do it to get more attention on social media.

How does this matter to you? Think about this: In some situations, people have been jailed for posting fake news. Some have been jailed simply for sharing fake news.  Worst of all, people have had to struggle through heart-ache and pain because someone posted fake information about their homes being burnt, about loved ones missing and killed.

More personally, if you are caught posting fake news, you will never be viewed as a real source ever again. People will read what you say and down-vote it. If you’ve been linked to false news, people will not believe what you post.

In these days of false news, multi-million dollar news outlets, from newspapers to globally-televised broadcast stations to top-rated website, all suffer when they report stories that fudge or play with facts. Don’t let that happen to you.

The Back to School List just for Kids

Everywhere you look someone is telling you to get ready to go back to school. Stores are urging you to come get your supplies and new clothes. Parents are reminding you to get your bus passes and clean out your closet. Websites post lists for you to read through and check off before the first day of class. This list is different. This is the back to school list just for kids.

1) Did you do everything that you wanted to do this summer?

Think back to before summer break. Is there an activity you planned on doing? Is there a hobby you wanted to spend more time on? How about a friend you wanted to see during the holidays? Did you hope to arrange a treasure hunt or put new wheels on your skateboard? Think hard—then act. There is still time to take care of that one great idea.

2) You’ve grown up a little over the summer—so should your personal space.

Take a minute and think about your room, your desk and even the posters on your wall. Go through your clothes and try them on. Jeans and shirts that don’t fit should go in a pile to give to your Mom or Dad. Do the same with your action figures, your posters, the cool stuff you have on your desk.

Looking through your personal space and seeing what “doesn’t fit anymore” will show you how much a life can change in a couple short months.

3) Now, do some house cleaning on your social media.

Many people–and that includes kids–are going through their settings. They are cutting out “friends” from the people they really know from actual flesh-and-blood life. Many recommend taking a good, long look at your privacy settings.

Make sure that when you post a personal detail, only real human beings that you know can see what you’ve written. A good rule of thumb is: Would you feel okay hanging alone in your room with this person? If the answer is, “Geez, I dunno,” then think hard about giving that person a look inside your life.

4) Relax.

School is a phase of life that takes you into the future. You’ll be going to classes that don’t seem to make sense and doing homework that doesn’t seem to have any purpose. For some of you, people might be asking you about college or university and great future plans. The best thing for you to do before you walk into that big crowded building is to just relax. Do your best and the rest will come.

Everywhere you look someone is telling you to get ready to go back to school. Stores are urging you to come get your supplies and new clothes. Parents are reminding you to get your bus passes and clean out your closet. Websites post lists for you to read through and check off before the first day of class. This list is different. This is the back to school list just for kids.

1) Did you do everything that you wanted to do this summer?

Think back to before summer break. Is there an activity you planned on doing? Is there a hobby you wanted to spend more time on? How about a friend you wanted to see during the holidays? Did you hope to arrange a treasure hunt or put new wheels on your skateboard? Think hard—then act. There is still time to take care of that one great idea.

2) You’ve grown up a little over the summer—so should your personal space.

Take a minute and think about your room, your desk and even the posters on your wall. Go through your clothes and try them on. Jeans and shirts that don’t fit should go in a pile to give to your Mom or Dad. Do the same with your action figures, your posters, the cool stuff you have on your desk.

Looking through your personal space and seeing what “doesn’t fit anymore” will show you how much a life can change in a couple short months.

3) Now, do some house cleaning on your social media.

Many people–and that includes kids–are going through their settings. They are cutting out “friends” from the people they really know from actual flesh-and-blood life. Many recommend taking a good, long look at your privacy settings.

Make sure that when you post a personal detail, only real human beings that you know can see what you’ve written. A good rule of thumb is: Would you feel okay hanging alone in your room with this person? If the answer is, “Geez, I dunno,” then think hard about giving that person a look inside your life.

4) Relax.

School is a phase of life that takes you into the future. You’ll be going to classes that don’t seem to make sense and doing homework that doesn’t seem to have any purpose. For some of you, people might be asking you about college or university and great future plans. The best thing for you to do before you walk into that big crowded building is to just relax. Do your best and the rest will come.

What Did You See? Really…

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

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