I was asked this question today during an interview on Radio 2UE. It’s becoming harder and harder to tell if your child is deleting their browser history, to hide their online behaviour from parents.
Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer only has history delete in bulk, or by date and time, but the Chrome browser and Firefox, has selective page history delete.
If you want to find out if they have been deleting their history it’s not easy. To retrieve any deleted history from browsers, you would have to restore browser history via system restore if on Windows, or by using a Time Machine backup on Mac. A bit onerous if you have to keep doing that for a child that is sneaky.
You can’t really rely on checking browsing history to monitor a child’s internet behaviour. A longer term solution, is to use the devices operating systems, parental controls or restrictions to disable history deletion and block content until the child is old enough and mature enough to be trusted not to access any content that you don’t want them to. Using your computers operating systems parental controls, or any that come with your modem, allows you to block certain sites, or keywords or adult content in general. www.opendns.org is also a good free filtering service to block certain sites or adult levels of content. You can also set “Safe Search” in Google, Bing, Yahoo and YouTube, (see here)
Tips To Keep Kids Browsing Safely
- Use parental controls to disable browser history deletion.
- Make sure you supervise your children online according to their age, (sit with younger children when they are online).
- Keep internet devices in common areas, especially when younger is vital to be able to keep track of your child’s internet use.
- Teach your children good browsing habits, not to click advertising or popups.
- Be specific about what you allow them to look at online, to click away if they see something adult.
- Be clear about where you are happy for them to go.
- If you have a child that is at risk, then perhaps try a parental monitoring app or software, so that you can have more awareness of where they are going.
- Keep those open conversations going with your children, make sure you are regularly checking in with them about their online adventures.
- Be sure your child can come to you for any questions they may have about what they may have stumbled across.
- If you do find your child exploring online places that you have disallowed, then be sure to follow up with reasonable consequences, don’t go overboard, sometimes small restrictions after a boundary has been pushed, is much easier to enforce than a huge digital life sentence!