Browse all articles

What Are the Deep Web and the Dark Web?

Topics: Online Safety

Despite how much time we spend online, it's rare that we think about how it works. The apps you visit every day and the sites you find through search engines like Google are actually only a fraction of the total web.

Beyond the commonly available sites lies the deep web. It's a part of the internet that can't be found on search engines. It usually requires a password or has a paywall. This includes things like streaming subscriptions, email accounts, and online banking. Beyond that is the dark web, a part of the deep web that you can only access through special browsers.

Here are some basics on the dark web:

  • To get in, you need a special browser, like Tor, that allows you to use it anonymously.
  • Many people use it to avoid being tracked. Some simply don't want their data collected by large companies like Google or Amazon. Others use it for illegal content and activities.
  • Some people use a combination of Tor, complex computer programming, and other sophisticated strategies to create, share, and do business illegally on the dark web.
  • The dark web can also be used as a tool for legitimate causes. This includes investigative journalism and research in places where the government has strict control over the internet.

If your kid uses the dark web, it's important to talk with them about it. Many pages on there are not safe for kids and teens to visit. Here are some things you can discuss:

  • Getting in. The internet is full of information on how to access the deeper parts of the web, and kids may be curious about it. However, the dark web can be risky and even dangerous. Encourage your children to keep the lines of communication open. Teach them the basic rules of online safety. Ask them what they're interested in learning.
  • Recognizing warning signs. Help your kid understand how to spot suspicious behavior, such as grooming, asking for money, and doing anything illegal. Make sure they know to go to a trusted adult for help if they have any negative or uncomfortable experiences on the dark web.
  • Never buying on the dark web. Unless you are shopping online with trusted shops or services, be careful when making purchases. On the dark web or other unreliable sites, your sensitive information—such as credit card numbers and addresses—could be hacked or used for other activities. And unlike with major internet retailers, there probably won't be any customer service to help.
Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media offers the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based ratings and reviews. Our timely parenting advice supports families as they navigate the challenges and possibilities of raising kids in the digital age.