Tech Tip #68: Check History in Your Browser

tech tipsAs a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:How do I check to see where my kids/students have been online without making them think I don’t trust them?

A: If they’ve been online without you (because you considered them mature enough for this action), by all means check up on them. This is not a sign of distrust any more than guiding them through any other new skill is. This is you showing them the correct way to use the internet. You’re not spying on your children; you’re making sure everything is OK, kind of like checking in on them while they sleep.

Go to what’s called ‘history’. ‘History‘ is where a list of all the websites whoever logged in under a particular user name went.  Here’s how you do it:

  • In Firefox or IE, hold the Control key (Ctrl) and push H. That brings up a sidebar with the sites they’ve visited.
  • Select the time frame you’re interested in

That’s it. If you find they went somewhere they shouldn’t, don’t over-react. Sometimes it happens by accident. Ask them about it. Watch their answer. Their body language will tell you as much as their words. You know your children. You’ll know if they are telling the truth.

Questions you want answered? Email me at and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Categories: free tech resources, keyboard shortcuts, tech security | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Tech Tip #68: Check History in Your Browser

  1. But some of them always browse incognito. How can see you that.

    • Most kids don’t know the incognito button, at least in elementary school. I’m not aware of a method to track people who browse that way. I’m guessing if they use it, they want to be hidden and I’ll respect that attitude.

  2. Eivind

    This is dishonest. *offcourse* looking into the history of the web-broweser to learn what a kid visited is spying, and a clear sign of lacking trust too.

    It’s not at all like entering the room while they’re using the computer and looking with them, because the latter is open whereas the former is hidden.

    Consider how an adult would react to the same thing: Having a partner or a boss or whomever walk into the room while you’re using the computer is not at all comparable to after-the-fact dig trough the history of which sites you visited to check if you’ve been bad.

    “incognito” does not mean to use another profile – it means to activate the privacy-mode all browsers has today that results in the history NOT being updated with sites visited.

    • Don’t confuse kids with adults. Raising children is quite different from teaching adults. Kids are no longer considered young adults as they were in the 1800’s. Now, we understand that their immature brains and physical and how they make intuitive connections requires a different approach than the over-eighteen crowd. While a history tool might be considered ‘spying’ with adults, with students its used to guide. Sometimes, they don’t know they shouldn’t go to certain websites or they stumble there by accident. Sometimes, they don’t even know that certain websites are bad. It’s our job as trusted adults to explain the nuances. It’s the same reason I have Vision on my desktop in my computer lab–not to spy on them, but to help them at the first sign of a problem. I can’t be everyone at once, so it’s a quick way to make sure everything is going well. My focus is guidance, not distrust. Do you see the difference?

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Pingback: Tech Tip #99: Top Ten Internetting Hints « Ask a Tech Teacher

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