I don’t know a single mother that would let her child play near a street without supervising him. We make sure that our whole family is buckled in before we leave the driveway. I could make a list of 100 things we all do to protect our families every day.
Why in the world do we let our computers, cell phones and other devices go un-monitored?
You want to know why I think? I think that we want to believe that our husband, our children…that we are not susceptible to the myriad of temptation that awaits in cyberspace.
If you think that, I’ll start out nice. I’ll give you that one. Maybe your family is not ever tempted to do wrong online. Ever. But guess what? The bad stuff is so pervasive and sneaky that it shows up even when you’re not looking for it.
I never really believed that, by the way. I’d hear people say, “I was just searching for a new cookie recipe and all of the sudden there was porn on my computer.” Yeah, right.
Well now that it’s happened to me, I am not quite so judgmental.
In my first few months on Twitter, pornographic images the likes of which I’ve never seen have appeared on my screen. And I am not exaggerating. I was looking for a youth ministries page and was greeted with large images of sex acts occurring. I typed nothing suggestive in my search, nor did I mis-type. Yet there it was.
And we have filters on our devices.
The Best Online Protection
Nothing is perfect, I’ve learned, in protecting against every image, every site. But I want to tell you about the very best online protection resource we’ve found.
It’s called Covenant Eyes. (Job 31:1 says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”)
Covenant Eyes is two-fold. First, it is a filtering software. We have it installed on every device that has internet access. Phones, tablets, laptops…everything. You are able to set your limits on what you want blocked, and have a parental password to override a blocked site.
The filter is important. It’s a big piece of why we use Covenant Eyes. But it’s not the main reason we chose it. There are lots of filtering software out there.
We chose Covenant Eyes because it’s also an accountability measure.
Here’s how it works. You set up your account with any number of accountability partners added. When my husband initially added this to our computer 10 years ago, he had a group of men that each installed it on their computer and listed each other as partners. They each listed their own wife as well.
Every week a report is sent to all accountability partners. Inappropriate search terms, or website visits are highlighted. A list of every site visited can be obtained as well.
Knowing that someone else is seeing your online activity…well, that makes you think about that click, doesn’t it?
Covenant Eyes costs just $14.99 a month for both the filtering and accountability measures. But if you give it a try through a link here, you’ll get your first month free. FREE! We’ve used this service for so long, and I’ll be honest with you…I’d pay much more for the blessing that it’s been to my family. Much. More.
And may I say here, their customer service is top notch. Incredibly helpful and patient, always figuring out a way to help. A+
Protect Your Family
I want to say again: nothing is going to protect your family 100% from online porn or generally inappropriate material. Sites like Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Instagram…even Pinterest, can have posts that are pornographic show up and no filtering software is going to block it all before it reaches your family’s eyes.
That’s why it’s important to have other safeguards in place. I’d love to hear about some of the ways you protect your family. I wish I could say we’re perfect at monitoring everything that our kids do online, but we’re simply not.
We have a policy of checking the browser history on laptops…we check cell phones…we have an open door policy when computers are being used…the only social media site our kids are on is Facebook…and we don’t allow apps like Snapchat on any of our phones.
We also made sure the boys knew early on that every single site is monitored by Covenant Eyes and sent to us weekly.
While it would be nice to live in a protective bubble, we recognize that our kids won’t be in our home forever. It’s our job to teach them how to navigate this world as adults, and keep intimacy in its proper place. Since they are teenagers, we try to have the same rules for ourselves as we do for them. We want them to see that it’s not just “rules”, but a wise way to live.
They know that my husband chooses not to have a Twitter account for the same reason we’ve told them they can’t. We don’t use Snapchat. We make our browser history an open book. And Covenant Eyes is a tool we chose to use even before they were online, and one we hope they’ll choose to use when they leave our home.
Going back to how nice I was at the beginning when I gave you the benefit of the doubt that no one in your house would be tempted by online pornography. I want to share some statistics with you that may change your mind.
According to a survey conducted by the Barna Group in the U.S. in 2014: The following percentages of men say they view pornography at least once a month:
The following percentages of men say they view pornography at least several times a week:
But surely not Christian men, you say. Christian men are different.
According to that survey, 64% of self-identified Christian men view pornography at least once a month compared to 65% of non-Christian men.
Do you see that? The difference is only 1%. Christians are not immune from this temptation. In fact, across the board it seems that the statistics for Christians and online pornography are not very different from non-Christians.
When looking specifically at teen behavior, one survey showed that 71% of teens have done something to hide what they do online from their parents (this includes clearing browser history, minimizing a browser when in view, deleting inappropriate videos, lying about behavior, using a phone instead of a computer, blocking parents with social media privacy settings, using private browsing, disabling parental controls, or having e-mail or social media accounts unknown to parents).
And while only 32% of teens admitted to accessing pornographic material intentionally, 70% said they have accidentally stumbled across porn online.
Would you let your child play with a toy unsupervised if there was a 70% chance they might accidentally injure themselves with it?
This next statistic just makes me sad, and reinforces to me the need for accountability. After listing lots of stats on pastoral use of porn, the report says:
75% of pastors said they do not make themselves accountable to anyone for their Internet use.
The Covenant Eyes website has some fantastic informational resources available. Just click on the ‘E-Books’ tab to access them. Their book on Porn Statistics is where I got the above stats, and is a little overwhelming, to be honest.
In the e-book called, “Your Brain on Porn”, there is a section on 5 Biblical Ways to Renew the Mind. The first way is to Walk in Accountability.
Christian accountability, the book tells us, is about being honest with another trusted believer about our temptations, sins, and the state of our heart. It is meant to be a dialogue, though. One in which we are able to speak grace and truth into each other’s lives.
If, in the course of writing this blog, I could convince my readers of the benefit of just one thing it would be Covenant Eyes. I really love my raspberry leaf, and I am sold out on the method of homeschooling high school we’ve chosen… but they don’t matter like this matters.
Are you a Harry Potter fan? (If not, please bear with me for a sec). You know that scene in the last movie where Professor McGonagall brings the statues in the castle to life? She says, “Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries! Protect us! Do your duty to our school!”
Chill bumps every time.
Men and women of God, I say to you, “Your family is threatened! Man the boundaries! Protect them! Do your duty to your children!”
It’s worth it. I promise.
If you know someone who struggles with an addiction to pornography, or has someone in their life who does, please refer them to this page “Sexual Purity and Pornography Addiction” for resources of hope.
*This post contains some affiliate links. Part of why I created The Sparrow’s Home was to be able to share resources that I’ve found useful or wonderful in some way. Every so often, I’m fortunate enough to become an affiliate with the makers of these fantastic resources. This will never add cost to my readers.