Hidden Browsing: What’s missing from your Internet history and how to find out


About 80 percent of homeschool parents don’t know a common way kids hide what they do in Internet browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer. It’s nothing fancy; it takes just one click.

I did an informal poll of parents at a dozen sessions at Teach Them Diligently conferences last year and this year, and it matched what I’ve seen at homeschool conferences across the country. Only about 20 percent of parents in these informal polls know a common way kids hide what they do online from parents. Homeschool parents aren’t alone; parents in general are missing it too. A Tru Research study showed that 71 percent of teens say they hide what they do online from their parents.

Parents often view history in browsers to learn about their kids browsing habits, and they take comfort in seeing there is activity for every date their kids were online. But what if your child simply tells the browser to stop recording history for a short period?

That’s exactly what they do, and I rarely meet a tween or teen who doesn’t know about it. Private Browsing or Incognito mode is one of the most common ways kids trick their parents.

Here’s how it’s done, and again, I’m not giving away secrets. In any browser, click on File and then select New Incognito Window or New Private Window. This will launch a new browsing window and often this first window tells you about all of things that will be hidden, including searches, visited pages, cookies, and temporary files.

The good news is that software like Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability and Filtering monitors pages viewed in the private browsing modes and it will block inappropriate content. Many other programs do not monitor or block content in private browsing mode, so be sure to choose software that does.


Sam Black is an Internet Safety Consultant, a vice president at Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability, and author of The Porn Circuit: Understand Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 Days.  He joined the Covenant Eyes team in 2007 after 18 years as a journalist, and has edited 16 books on the impact of pornography, how to protect our families, and how God’s grace brings restoration. He has been married for 21 years and is a father of two.