The internet is second nature to children who’ve grown up using it. It’s a great resource filled with educational material and entertainment, but the risk of them visiting less seemly sites make it essential that you keep track of their activities.

All web browsers maintain a list of recently visited websites, called the ‘browser history’, and this is easily viewed for some peace of mind allowing you to see what websites they’ve visited.

You can also look at the temporary files all web browsers save automatically during web browsing, as well as the Windows ‘DNS cache’ (a list of sites visited very recently), but this information can be harder to interpret.

Don’t, however, automatically assume that a suspicious website or file means your child has strayed where they shouldn’t. Web sites can be opened accidentally and all kinds of files can be downloaded inadvertently.

A: Check your web browser history

We’ve used Internet Explorer in depth here, with basic instructions for Google Chrome and Firefox, but all web browsers maintain a browser history and save temporary files.  Read how to do this indepth more: How to view and check your web browser history

Google Chrome: Press Ctrl + H to view browsing history.

Scroll down and click ‘Older’ to view more entries, or look for a specific website in Search history box at the top.

Firefox: Press Ctrl + H and the browsing history appears on the left.

Enter a website in the Search bar. Or click the drop-down arrow next to ‘View’ to search by date, most visited, last visited and more.

Step 1: Internet Explorer - Find favourites

Step 1: Find favourites

To view the browser history in Internet Explorer 11, click the star-shaped Favorites button at the top-right of its window.

Step 2: Internet Explorer - Locating browsing History

Step 2: Locating browsing History

A dialog box opens with three tabs - Favorites, Feeds and History. Click the History tab and you’ll see a list of days for the past week, followed by previous weeks. Click an entry in the list to reveal the websites visited during that day or week, then click a site to the pages that were visited. Clicking a page opens it in the browser.

Step 3: Internet Explorer - Viewing History

Step 3: Viewing History

The list is set to View By Date by default. You can see which websites have been visited the most by selecting the View By Most Visited option from the drop-down list at the top of the dialog box.

You can also get a clearer overview of visited sites by selecting the View By Site option. This groups together all visits to a particular site and you can see the date of each visit by hovering the mouse pointer over an entry.

[Read more: How to check and delete your web browser history in Windows 10’s Edge]

Step 4: Internet Explorer - Check temporary files

Step 4: Check temporary files

To view any temporary files that the web browser has downloaded automatically, click cog Tools button at the top-right of the window. Then select Internet Options from the menu.

Step 5: Internet Explorer - View temporary files

Step 5: View temporary files

Look for the Browsing history section on the dialog box that opens and click the Settings button. When the second dialog box opens, click the View files button on the ‘Temporary Internet Files’ tab.

Step 6: Looking at your files

Step 6: Looking at your files

A Windows Explorer window will open showing anything between a few to several thousand files. Many will have meaningless names, but look through the list and you’ll also see image files with names that do give some clue about their content. You can open these image files, too.

The window will also contain text files with names that start with ‘cookie’. These are the cookies that most web sites store on visitors’ computers and the web site name is usually shown as part of the filename.

B: Checking the DNS cache - for Windows users

Step 7: The DNS cache

Both the browser history and temporary files are easy to delete, but the Windows DNS cache needs a little more know how to clear, so it’s also worth examining occasionally – especially if your child knows how to delete their browsing history.

Search for ‘cmd’, either by opening the Start Menu in older versions of Windows or using Cortana on Windows 10 and open it when it appears.

In the box that appears type ‘ipconfig /displaydns’ (without the quotes) and press Enter.

Viewing the DNS 

Step 8: Viewing the DNS

A list of DNS entries will appear. Maximise the window to make it easier to scroll through the list and you’ll see the addresses of recently visited web sites, along with a few bits of other information you can safely ignore. Just close the window when you’ve finished looking.

The DNS cache is cleared regularly and automatically by Windowsso don’t be surprised if there aren’t many — or any — entries in this list.

C: Enable parental controls

It’s important to keep your children safe online and BT has free network-based Parental Controls that can help.

Choose from three filter levels: Strict, Moderate and Light.  You can also block and allow certain websites and set homework filters that block children from using the internet at certain times.

BT Parental Controls covers all devices that connect to the internet using the BT Hub.

Customers are given the option to set up Parental Controls when they join BT, but you can activate them at any time by logging into MyBT.

Find out more about BT Parental Controls

Read more: How to delete your web browsing history from Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and more.

Updated on March 15th 

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