My 5th grader is doing research online about elephants. On the surface, it’s not a bad idea to use the internet to get information. But when you watch how a 5th grader manages pop-up ads and other forms of advertising… it pretty much looks like a terrible idea.

The details: my 5th grader is trying to use as a resource in a writing project. Here are some screenshots: she’s seeing ads for LLBean and Audi. And if she wants to watch the video on this page then she has to watch an ad for Viking Cruises. No skip offered.


There are two issues that I see.

Search Engines Are Good for Adults, Bad for Kids

Search engines are built to push contextual ads in front of the searcher. Yes, search engines are superior at finding information, but they are 100% powered by advertising. So the adults in the room have to ask themselves: At what age does someone have the skills to manage ads? Interpret them, ignore them, see the biases in them? It’s not 5th grade.

Search-Optimized Sites Are About Monetization

Most, if not all, websites have some form of monetization plan based on getting ads in front of the visitor or by collecting data on the visitor’s behavior. I doubt many kids are searching up through and past the second search results page. What does this mean? It means that kids are getting to commercialized websites.

This isn’t the library.

And this isn’t fundamental research.

I need to get this idea in front of my 5th grader’s teacher.