Parents need to be aware of the browser mode known as Incognito Mode. All mobile devices with a data plan come with an internet browser. Even though social media and messaging dominate most kids’ time on their devices, internet browsers can be equally as popular for information and entertainment.
So What Is Incognito Mode?
Also known as private browsing or hidden browsing, all mobile web browsers have this kind of private browsing feature. It can allow someone to not save the sites they’ve visited, not save tracking and not save any search history. Kids usually learn quickly how to hide their tracks on the internet. They can use Incognito Mode or they can even delete history, delete images or even passwords manually in the advanced settings of the browser.
Why Parents May Be Worried
The reasons why a child may be browsing in a private mode are the reasons why parents may be worried. Kids of any age can access adult sites with no controls in place to truly verify age. If someone were visiting sites with nothing to hide, then there would likely be no reason to privately browse. Constantly erased data or cleared caches should be a red flag. If kids have downloaded a second browser that also may be cause for concern. Some parents may not think to check the browsing history of anything but the main web browser.
Is There Ever a Benefit To Incognito Mode?
Sometimes, there may be a good reason for private browsing like deleting cookies from all the sites that are following search histories to target advertising. And for parents, there are certainly good reasons for it. Searching for gifts or surprise vacations ideas are examples of why a parent may want to delete history so things can’t be seen by other family members. A parent may want to research a sensitive subject – another good reason to clear things out. But for kids … there may be more harm than benefit.
Parents can combat the incognito mode if they feel it’s necessary. Enabling web content filtering can block adult sites and keep web history even with private browsing enabled. Disabling the main web browser on a mobile device and switching to a kid-safe browser is another option. These types of browsers often come with a report of all browsing history.
While incognito browsing can keep web activity private, it can also give kids a way to hide things they don’t want a parent to see. It’s a good idea to talk openly about appropriate computer use and make sure kids know the expectations as well as consequences for inappropriate use.
Categories: Digital Safety, Tweens/Teen Safety