In what now seems like a bygone era, kids would turn to big, often dusty encyclopedias to help them complete school research projects. Nowadays, reference resources such as encyclopaedias, almanacs and dictionaries can be accessed much more manageably online. These online resources offer a fantastic tool for research and pupils could end up spending many hours clicking through links as their curiosity takes them onto different topics and new intellectual horizons. However, with such an amazing proliferation of online resources for kids to use, how can you be sure which one is best suited to their needs. More importantly, which ones offer the greatest safety and security for young internet explorers?In general, there are two broad categories of online reference resources. One consists of unstructured sites that are aimed at a general audience. Perhaps the best example of such a resource is Wikipedia, which offers probably the greatest database of information on the entire web. Wikipedia has already gained a high profile in schools and is used regularly by young learners as an introduction to new and unfamiliar topics.While Wikipedia is breathtaking in both size and scale, there are a few reasons why it and other general reference materials may not be the most suitable online resources for school students. First, the language of the articles is generally aimed at an adult audience, with technical terms that may be slightly bewildering for a young mind which is just getting to grips with a topic. Furthermore, the subject matter on general sites like Wikipedia covers a broad range of subjects, some of which may be unsuitable for children. Unfortunately, the ease with which a youngster can click a highlighted word and be confronted by a different page makes accessing unsuitable material all too easy.The second category of resources, covering sites aimed specifically at children and tailored directly to their needs, avoids some of the problems that you’d find with sites such as Wikipedia. The language of the articles is written with a young reader in mind, meaning that the fundamentals of the topic are spelled out in clear language, unobscured by technical jargon. What’s more, the scope of the information available is limited to appropriate subjects that, while allowing for a wide range of topics to inspire curious minds, also keep children safe and secure.On top of these benefits, the structured nature of sites such as Primary Britannica can really help kids to get the most out of the research experience. Databases of interesting information are complemented by personalised workspaces, online lessons, interactive media and other exciting features that both engage students and optimise their learning. As such, these tailored reference resources are a fantastic learning tool, allowing educators to supplement classroom teaching with opportunities for independent, self-directed learning which can be a crucial skill as pupils progress through their education.So, in summary, while general sites can be enormously useful and are well worth exploring, the package offered by structured online reference resources for kids helps to make research more convenient, more effective and more secure, and could serve as a fantastic option both for teachers in the classroom and parents at home.