Safer surfing: How to check your child’s online web browser history and more

Keep an eye on what your child is doing while they surf the net using these helpful techniques and tools.

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.

[Read more: How to stay anonymous online]

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.

How to check your web browser history

Google Chrome

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

Scroll down to view 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 history bar. Or click the drop-down arrow next to ‘View’ to search by date, most visited, last visited and more.

Internet Explorer: Press Ctrl + H. Click the drop down box to search by date, site, most visited and visted today.

Microsoft Edge: Press Ctrl + H. Click the dates to expand the web history

How to find favourites on your web browser

Google Chrome

Favourites - or bookmarks - may provide some insight into the websites your child visits.

Google Chome: Open a new tab and you will see the bookmarks banner along the top.

Firefox: Click the first icon along the top right which looks like a stack of books and click Bookmarks.

Internet Explorer: Click the star icon along the top right and ensure you have the Favourites tab open.

Microsoft Edge: Click the star icon along the top right and then the second star icon that appears below.

How to check temporary files

Google Chrome

Google Chrome: Checking temporary files on Chrome isn't very straight forward but it's not impossible.

Go to This PC by opening the File Explorer along the bottom of your screen. Open your hard drive, usually titled Local Disk (C:) and then the Users folder.

Along the top, you will see the file file path - click it and add '\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache' to the enter, then click the enter button. This should then show any temporary files from Google Chrome.

Firefox: In the address bar, type 'about:cache' and then click List Cache Entries. You will see a list of temporary files there.

Internet Explorer: Click the cog icon at the top right and select Internet options.

Under 'Browsing history', click the Settings button. In the next dialogue box, click View files.

How to check the DNS cache

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’ from the Start Menu and in the box that appears type ‘ipconfig /displaydns’ (without the quotes) and press Enter.

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.

How to 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 My BT.

Find out more about BT Parental Controls

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

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