Fear not! Your parents can’t see your internet history on the internet bill. There are certain things your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may tell them through other avenues, but they can’t get your internet browsing history from the internet bill.
Hi, my name’s Aaron. I’ve been an attorney and information security practitioner for the better part of two decades. I’m old enough to remember when parents could see your internet history on the phone and AOL bill.
While I had to suffer through that, you don’t! Let’s cover what’s typically on an internet bill and how your parents likely see your internet history.
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- What’s on the Internet Bill?
- How Do My Parents Know My Internet History?
- Your parents can’t see internet history on the internet bill – there’s only cost information on there.
- Your parents can see your internet history from other sources.
- Those information sources are on your computer and elsewhere.
What’s on the Internet Bill?
I moved houses two years ago. I haven’t looked at my internet bill since I moved! I signed up for services, set up autopay, and just monitor my credit card bill every month to see that my internet bill has been paid.
The internet is a critical part of my life and livelihood, so why am I so cavalier about the bill?
I’m cavalier about it because the bill has almost no content. It has a total amount, which I pay. It also has a list of discounts, a breakdown of charges, and brief notifications of updates and terms. My bill is six pages long and can probably be consolidated to one-and-a-half.
More importantly, my bill is the same month-to-month. My fees never increase.
Anecdotally, my current provider is Verizon. I used to use Comcast. Both in the U.S. My Comcast bills were no different.
That’s a far cry from when I was a teenager. Today, your cable provider is likely your internet provider. That’s because modern internet providers are data connection providers.
When I was a teenager in the 1990s, internet providers were service providers. AOL, Netscape, Compuserve and other providers gave you the internet over a phone connection. Bell and AT&T were your data connection providers.
So if you connected to a non-domestic (or long-distance) server via a long-distance number, you would be charged long-distance charges. Ask me how I know that in the comments.
Your internet provider would also charge you extra for sites you visited. If you didn’t have an unlimited-use plan, they would also charge you for usage overages by the minute!
If you visited premium or subscription sites–and sites could define whether or not they were premium or subscription–you would have to pay to visit them. Your internet provider would collect those fees on the sites’ behalf. So the internet bill wouldn’t be static. As a result, most of the household internet browsing history would be elaborated in the bill.
Here’s a great YouTube video about the rise and fall of AOL. In case you aren’t aware, AOL used to be the largest internet provider in the U.S.
How Do My Parents Know My Internet History?
Because they’re savvy. They’re likely seeing your history through one of a few methods of collecting internet use.
As you browse the internet, your computer collects your browsing history. It saves information about where you visited and what tracking settings you accepted. Your browser elaborates that list and your history can be searched.
Some routers collect information about websites visited. If your parents are more technologically savvy, they may have put a DNS filter on the network for ad blocking purposes. Those DNS filters can also record internet browsing history.
In case you’re curious about what a DNS filter is and how to set one up for ad blocking on the cheap, here’s a great YouTube video about how to set up a PiHole server.
Credit Card Bill
If you signed up for a service on the internet using a credit card, your parents may have seen the bill.
In the U.S. all ISPs forward copyright notices to whomever allegedly violates copyright either by email or an ISP-provided portal. If you did something that violated someone’s copyright and they reported the violation, then your parents may have been made aware of that by the ISP.
Some parents monitor computer use via keylogger or other technological means. If they do, then they have a full report of everything you do on your computer.
Let’s talk about some related questions you may have.
Can Parents See Your Search History Even If You Delete It?
Yes. As you can see from the discussion above, if you delete your browser history there are numerous ways they can see what you do on the internet. Importantly, this is only if they’re tech-savvy.
Can a Phone Plan Owner See Search History?
No. That information used to be elaborated for mobile phones (again, when I was a teenager), but it isn’t now.
Can a Wi-Fi Owner See My Search History if I Deleted it?
Yes. Review what I wrote above in the How Do My Parents Know My Internet History section. If you delete your search history, you only obviate Browser History. There are at least four other ways they can review your internet search history.
Your parents can’t see your internet history on your wi-fi bill. They can see your internet history in a few other ways.
I’d love to hear about how you circumvent(ed) your parents’ review of your internet history in the comments. I’d also love to hear about how you don’t or didn’t! Let’s reminisce about how you got in trouble with your parents for your internet use in your youth.
For me, it’s what started me down the path of information and cyber security. How has that served you in your life and career?