In the past month, I’ve received several inquiries from distressed parents or spouses concerned about finding pornography in their family’s browser histories. Due to the number of these, I’m posting a typical inquiry, and my advice:
While searching on our home computer, I noticed some inappropriate sites on my browser history. My husband (or son/daughter) denied going to these sites, not that I would have minded. My husband (or son/daughter) said they must have come up during a search of something else. Am I being stupid, and reading a little too much into this? I don’t want to be lied to.
Before I confront him/her again, can you let me know if this could have been the case, that he or she did not type them into a search?
Hopefully you can help me – xxxxxxxxxx
Depending on how your search engine filters are set up (or aren’t set up), and whether you have a tool that blocks pop ups, your husband/son/daughter may or may not have searched for these sites.
- Sometimes clicking on one site can lead to a pop up that has nothing to do with what you are looking at – and frequently these are pornographic in nature.
- Sometimes a search result name can sound like something you want, but when you actually go there, the content is very different – the classic example of this was when kids typed whitehouse.com thinking they would land on a government site (which is whitehouse.gov) instead it was a porn site.
Without knowing your settings, you may want to focus on future behavior rather than on what’s occurred in the past. Though they would certainly have seen the sites, they may well be telling the truth about not having searched for them.
If your children are at risk of viewing inappropriate content, you may want to consider one or more courses of action:
- Have another discussion with your spouse/son/daughter where you discuss (or reiterate) your family’s values and expectations for behavior online.
- Set the filters on your search engine (all the major search engines have these) to block pornography.
- Use a family safety/parental control product that will help block inappropriate content.
- Install a pop-up blocker – there are several free services that will do this, if you are using a Firefox browser there are ad-ons right inside the tool for this.
- Install McAfee Site Advisor or another free tool that identifies fraudulent sites. Many invasive pornography suites are riddled with malware or are known to be ‘spammy’, so using a tool like Site Advisor can help flag questionable sites.