Why Filtering Is Not Enough And Accountability Is Vital For Safety
Why Filtering Is Not Enough To Keep Your Home Safe
What Else Is Needed Along With Filtering For Safety?
Safety Must Include Teaching And Engaging With Technology
- Download free ebooks from Covenant Eyes.
- Use the Good Pictures Bad Pictures books to train your kids from an early age.
- Protect Young Eyes provides educational videos that you watch with your kids.
- Get Covenant Eyes free for 30 days, covering unlimited devices for your family.
- Use this guide to setup Open DNS for your router. It’s a free service!
- Set up parental controls on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It’s easy!
- Use Family Sharing for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch to create transparency and set limits.
- Protect Young Eyes is a Covenant Eyes partner and provides the best list of app descriptions, so you know what apps are right for your family and others to avoid.
- The complete guide to Android parental controls
- If you subscribe to Covenant Eyes, use the Accountability Reports to have an ongoing conversation with your kids about what they see and what is blocked online.
- Before you go to the movies, watch a show, or a buy a video game, check out Pluggedin from Focus on the Family. Use the reviews to talk to your kids.
- Axis provides several resources and a blog that will help you understand today’s culture and what influences are aimed at your kids.
- The Protect Young Eyes blog and the Covenant Eyes blog are among my favorites. You will discover endless ways you can engage your kids about technology and culture.
5 Must-Do Components To Keep Your Family Safe
Sam: It’s an honor to be here, thank you Anne.
Anne: So, Sam and I have talked with each other a few times at different conferences, and I was so impressed with the Covenant Eyes philosophy of how to help families. It’s not just about filtering. So, we’ll start there. As you’re listening to Sam talk about Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability, if you’re interested in having this of accountability in your home and available to your family, then you can use the code BTR and you can get 30 days free. They have offered that to us for our BTR listeners. So, as you’re listening today kind of think about that and if you want to take advantage of that special offer for BTR listeners, then you would go to Covenant Eyes and make sure that you enter in that code, BTR.
Why Only Filtering Can Lead To A False Sense Of Safety
So, lets start with Sam talking about the difference between accountability software and filtering.
Sam: That’s a great place to start. Filtering, that’s what most people think about, most families think about. They think about: how do we just block the bad stuff and then we don’t have anything to worry about. The problem is in our culture today that doesn’t work very well. In fact; children, teens, tweens, adults treat filters a lot like a fence. They’ll walk around the fence and they beat on the boards of that fence until they find a loose board or an open gate, and then that becomes their secret way to get through.
Recently, there is research on the impact of pornography in our culture today. They found that every single home they interviewed, if filtering only was being used, that home was accessing pornography. Every single home they interviewed, 100 percent. That’s crazy isn’t it?
Anne: So that’s with filtering?
Sam: With filtering. Isn’t that crazy?! Whether it’s open DNS or another filter that they’ve actually installed on their devices.
Family Safety Must Include Accountability
Sam: So does it create this atmosphere where the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence? Our kids don’t learn anything from being blocked and adults definitely don’t learn anything from being blocked, and if it does teach them anything, it’s how to find a way around it because that’s all done in secrecy. So, at Covenant eyes we never provide filtering without also accountability. Filtering is there to block accidents and mistakes. Accountability shows intent and curiosity and interests, so that we can have an ongoing conversation about what we see and do online and no longer is it private. Even the things that you’ve done before to maybe beat a filter or test the limits, those things get put on your report. Even circumvention methods.
Anne: Really? So, you can see how people are getting around the filter, for example?
Sam: Very specific things that are done, they’ll end up on your report if you do them to try and circumvent the software, yes.
Anne: Does the software also work on phones? Because the women who follow this podcast, most of us are dealing with someone who is accessing it on their phone outside of the home or maybe inside the home.
Family Safety Must Include Teaching
Sam: Yes, of course we not only monitor and filter on computers but also on iphone, ipad, ipod touch. But there is some additional exiting news that comes with how we are going to be monitoring on android devices and computers and IOS devices; iphone, ipad, ipod touch as well. And that is screen monitoring, so it doesn’t matter where pornography comes from on your computer or android device. If it appears in the screen it will go to the report. Again, this is monitoring, so even if you put a DVD into the side of your computer. If someone sends you an email with pornography inside and you open it and appears on your screen, it will go to your report.
Anne: Ok, so you have talked a lot about a report so far. So, Covenant Eyes is a lot different than any other service out there. And this report is one of those things. Can you provide an overview of how Covenant Eyes works and what is this report your talking about?
How To Keep Your Family Safe From Pornography
Sam: With Covenant Eyes you install the software on each device, and we’re monitoring how the internet is used on your phones, tablets, computers; and we rate the pages on the internet like you’d see for video games and television shows. Everyone, youth, teen, mature teen, mature, highly mature and then that makes it easy to understand what ratings you would see on a Covenant Eyes report. As well, you get to set as the accountability partner what you would like to see on the report. So, for instance, if you set it to the teen level, anything rated teen or above would appear on the report. If you set it to the mature level, any websites accessed that were rated mature or highly mature would appear on the report.
We’ll show you the words that were typed into search engines like Google and Yahoo and Bing. The time and date of that search and a rating for it. We will show you the individual pages that were allowed or blocked based on what you said you wanted to see on the report as well, and what the filter settings were set at. It shows you the times of days the internet is being used by each family member as well. So, that’s just a quick overview of several of the things we do on those devices. I think one of the common questions I hear is what about incognito mode or private browsing? Well Covenant Eyes monitors that as well. We can monitor and filter within that.
Things To Implement To Keep Everyone Safe
Sam: I not only use Covenant Eyes for myself, I’m only held accountable, I can go anywhere I want to on the internet on my phones, tablets, computers, but my report goes to three guys at my church, and I send it to my wife. My son comes right behind me on the same devices and he’s filtered at his age level, and he’s held accountable, and his reports come to me and my wife. My son and daughter, you know, were raised with Covenant Eyes on their devices and that really created opportunities for me to have conversations I never would have even thought to even have.
Anne: Talk about that a little bit. Based on the report that you get, for example, like your son’s report. You’re able to then have a conversation with him that you wouldn’t have known that you needed to have perhaps?
Sam: Let’s back up to when he was 9, and I get his report and there is a site that’s been blocked. I look at it and it looks like a superheros kind of sight, right? Sure enough, I click on the link that’s been blocked and it’s rated as though it would be pornography and it was. It was animated hardcore pornography of superhero characters. Wow! So, I thought well how can I turn this into a conversation? So, I get home that night and I said: Hey Son, show me all the pictures that you’ve been printing out today for your superhero characters, because as soon as I saw that there was a bad site, it also allowed me to click on the detailed browsing log on our website, and that allowed me to see the 15-20 minutes prior, and I can see exactly what he’s trying to do. I can even see the print codes that he’s doing to print out pictures of superhero characters.
So, he brings out his Spiderman, Thor and stuff like that and we look at the pictures on his wall. And Oh! that’s just really cool. I said did you know that one of the pages that you visited was blocked? He goes, yeah, I think I remember that. I said: Well, someone was trying to trick you into viewing pornography, and that wasn’t even what you were trying to get to. He goes: Yeah
Must-Do's To Keep Your Family Free From Porn
The whole idea behind that is that now he is thinking for himself: People try to trick me online to view things that I don’t even what to look at, and I have to be extra careful. Not everyone online has my best interest in mind.
Anne: I’m so excited to get Covenant Eyes on our devices, which I have not yet had because we have not had devices and my children are very young. One of the reasons why I wanted to invite you on today to give me an overview of how I’m going to do that. I recently purchased ipads for my kids to do their homework on and other things that the school has requested that they have access to. For someone who is just starting out, like me, what tips would you have?
Sam: Well, the first thing that you’ve done right is buying an ipad. Iphone, ipad, ipod touch are probably the most secure place where you can allow your children internet access, to be able to monitor their apps. So, congratulations. You made the right choice.
Anne: Wahoo! If only I had done that with my ex. I made one good decision, yay!! The reason why our listeners are so interested in this is because all of us have been affected by our husband’s porn use. We understand how damaging it can be. We understand how harmful it can be to not just our children, but also our family dynamic, and also the tone that our home has.
Components To Keep Your Family Safe
Sam: I really like where you’re going there. The understanding that your listeners have had to deal with this in their marriage, and their spouses were exposed to pornography, and it’s had a total impact.
One of the things I appreciate about our Covenant Eyes and our mission is that we want to help families create a culture of accountability in their home. It’s not just for kids to be safe online. We want to create a culture of accountability where we are not only finding healing in marriage, but we’re also leading by example. That we shouldn’t be asking our kids to do something that we aren’t willing to do ourselves. Typically, when a spouse has had such deep struggles with pornography, they were often exposed very early. I’m sure that you see that often. I speak at homeschool conferences across the United States. This is the demographic that is supposed to have everything in line and they protected their kids, and on a regular basis I’m hearing about 6, 7, 8, 9-year-olds being exposed to pornography and it’s heartbreaking.
We need to, as parents, step up to the plate and use tools like Covenant Eyes that remind us to have conversations with our kids, but use tools that are available, like Good Picture/Bad Pictures and Good Picture/Bad Pictures Jr, I’m sure that you promote that as well. These are read along books that help train and teach your kids to know what pornography is, and then your able to lead by example. Let your kids know who your accountability partners are. My kids always knew that I was handing my phone over to another man who my wife agreed to and trusted to receive my reports. Because we exercised and led by example in our home, we didn’t have to have this fight (Sam chuckling) about: Well, when I turn 18 I don’t have to do this anymore.
Filtering Restrictions Are Not Enough
I think that it’s very important that we choose devices that we know we can protect. Sometimes we choose devices simply because their inexpensive or something of that nature. But before we buy a device I encourage parents to know what they’re bringing into their home, and begin to find how they’re going to protect it before they buy it. Now, we don’t always have that luxury, and sometimes you might have to sell a device or just toss it into the garbage to get it out of our home. Because we don’t want devices in our home that we can’t protect. And we’re going to walk you through several things that you can do to protect not only your iphone, ipad, ipod touch, but other devices as well. The great thing about iphone, ipad, ipod touch is that Apple had done pretty good on providing parental controls anyway and they work hand and glove with Covenant Eyes. Now recently, they upgraded what is now called ScreenTime. You may have been familiar with restrictions before.
(Anne) Yeah, in fact just this morning I had restrictions on. And I was trying to take an app off my daughters ipad that I am addicted to, not her. And I thought: I’ve got to get rid of this thing. Right?! And so, I was trying to find the restrictions to remove it, because I had changed it so that she couldn’t put any apps on or take any off.
Filtering Is Good, But Accountability Is Better
Sam: Yeah, so this is the IOS 12 update and now you’re using what’s called ScreenTime. And what we’ll do, rather than trying to walk you through the details of how to do that here, you’ll have a link there on your site where people can click on it, watch a video, with step-by-step instructions about how to setup ScreenTime.
Anne: So, if you’ll go to our website and look up Covenant Eyes, you can find this episode, and we’ll include all of the links that Sam is talking about right now, on that article.
Thank you, that’s a great place to start.
Sam: Now, if you have an android device, recently they’ve added FamilyLink. You can setup FamilyLink and we’ll provide, again, another link that we’ll show you how to do that as well. With FamilyLink you can review apps, movies, music, books. It allows you to approve all the content. It will block mature sites in Chrome. When you install Covenant Eyes on the device it locks Safe Search on as well. For iphone, ipad, ipod touch and android devices you can also install Covenant Eyes.
I often call this layers of swiss cheese. Swiss cheese has holes in it, but if you use the parental controls on the devices themselves, that covers one layer, it has some holes in it. Then you put Covenant Eyes on the device, that covers additional holes, and let me give you another layer of protection, and that is protecting your router. You might be most familiar with open DNS.
Protecting Your Family Includes Many Approaches
Sam: But, I would like to introduce you to something called cleanbrowsing.org. This was started by a tech genius kind of dad who saw some weaknesses in open DNS. Through cleanbrowsing.org it gives you more power over searches. It gives you more power over mixed media content sites like Reddit, and you layer the swiss cheese. It just takes time, and we provide you some videos and show you how to do that as well.
Anne: All the things that Sam just talked about will be on this podcast episode on our website, so you can go and get all the links. I would like to say, it sounds extremely hard and overwhelming, but YOU CAN DO IT! You can take one step at a time, and just like anything else that seems hard and overwhelming, if you just take one step at a time you can work toward protecting your family. We’ve already talked on the podcast about Good Pictures/Bad Pictures and other books and resources available to parents to help with their kids, and this is just another layer. I love that analogy, another layer of swiss cheese to protect your family. All of these are very important.
A little drum roll here. The moment we’ve all been waiting for in terms of what our listeners are really interested in, and that is how do I stop my husband from viewing porn? Whether he wants to stop or not?
Some husbands are very interested in recovery and some aren’t. Let’s talk about what a wife can do to protect her home and protect her marriage in terms of using an accountability software. So, one thing women want to know is: Is my husband using porn?
Porn Can Be Addressed With Safe Measures
Many women see the behaviors, like the irritability or the anger or just strange gaslighting episodes or other emotional abuse episodes, and they wonder is porn an issue here. Would you recommend, and I think I know the answer to this before I ask it, but would you recommend installing Covenant Eyes without a husband’s knowledge, as sort of a private investigator?
Sam: We would always say no. Always, always. In fact, when you install Covenant Eyes we popup on your screen. The whole idea behind Covenant Eyes is to have an open and honest relationship with someone who wants to help you in your recovery and maintenance to stay away from pornography. We’re not spyware. We’re accountability software that is all about engaging someone else in your story, so that you can find redemption and escape from pornography.
Anne: That’s what I thought you were going to say and I think that is the right answer. So, for women who are wondering: Is my husband using pornography? We encourage them here to focus on the behavior rather than trying to find the pornography because they can hide it anywhere. Right? An adult can do any number of things so that you would never be able to find it. And then your just stuck in this loop of: Am I crazy? Am I not crazy? What’s happening here? To save yourself from that pain.
Now, if your husband is interested in having accountability software on his phone and on his devices, should a wife be his accountability partner? What is Covenant Eyes feeling about that?
Safety Involves Many Tools
Sam: I think that is a very individual question to the individual relationship. I highly recommend that every man have another man to be his accountability partner. And I will always say that a wife should always know who the accountability partner is, have access to him, and foremost, that she agree that that is a good accountability partner for her husband. If she wants to receive his report as well, then that might be something that she really needs to think more seriously about. I don’t know the answer to that on an individual basis.
Anne: At Betrayal Trauma Recovery we do not call them what a typical therapist might call them, which might be controlling behaviors or codependent behaviors, but we view them through the lens of safety seeking and truth-seeking behaviors. It’s really important for a wife to be safe and for her to know the truth. In this particular case, we have seen that women who are trying to seek safety and truth can’t necessarily find it through these methods because if someone wants to hide their pornography use they’re going to be able to be successful. I think that it is really important to put it out there that your intention is for safety seeking and for truth seeking, but you may not be able to find it in this way. Or you might be, I don’t know, but to just reframe the conversation away from control and codependency, toward safety and truth. I think this helps women a lot to realize what it is that they’re looking for.
Sam: Covenant Eyes is a tool that allows someone to say I need help, come help me. Be my accountability partner, be part of my community that is helping my recovery.
Families Can Be Kept Safe With Many Mechanisms
If I am a person who is addicted to pornography and I don’t really want help, I want to use my drug. The truth is I can go down to WalMart and buy a separate smartphone with a separate plan. There is any number of ways that you can seek to hide what you’re doing online or in life, and I see Covenant Eyes not as the answer, but as a tool to help someone who truly wants recovery. If a person does not want recovery, we’re not going to be of any help.
Anne: So Sam, you wrote one of Covenant Eyes eBooks called The Porn Circuit, which examines the neurology of compulsive porn use. How does accountability help the brain heal and leave behind porn use?
Sam: What we hear from our users a lot is that it has a lot to do with remapping the brain. That prefrontal cortex of the brain often has hypofrontality. And hypofrontality and compulsiveness, those are interchangeable kind of words.
Think of the prefrontal cortex like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more you do the right thing, it becomes stronger so the easier it becomes to say yes to good behaviors. People are able to make good choices online because they have this backing. The have a friend who’s going to get a report. So, when I’m online on my phone or my computer, and I see a link or an ad that might lead to something inappropriate, I have time to stop and think. Do I really want to visit that site? And I can make that choice. And I am exercising that muscle, I’m exercising the prefrontal cortex, to make the right decision. And that just makes our compulsivity become less.
Accountability Software Can Help
Anne: That’s very important. That is exactly why I was taking that app off my daughter’s ipad. Because I was just compulsively playing this stupid game that was wasting my time, and I thought if it wasn’t just on her ipad, I would have to think: Oh, I would have to load it on there.
Just giving yourself a couple of seconds to make the right choice gives you a better opportunity to do that. And if you know someone is going to get this on an accountability report that can help.
Sam: So, now I’m inviting my accountability partner, even when I’m a thousand miles away at a conference, my accountability partners are going to receive a report of what I’m seeing and doing online. Am I skating around the edges? Am I making the right choices? I get to think about all that and make those right choices online.
Anne: I’m thinking: Okay, if I get it on the devices who would I choose for my accountability partner? And I’m thinking: It’s going to be a little bit embarrassing. Like when they get my report they can see like, oh no! they saw that I shopped for shoes for 2 hours and wasted my time!
Covenant Eyes Can Help With Safety
So, let’s say that women listening, their husband wants to be in recovery. That he says he is committed to transparency and that he is willing and wants to have Covenant Eyes installed on his devices. What should his accountability relationship look like?
Sam: Well, it’s imperative that we have someone that he trusts, that he can talk openly with. And that might seem like nearly an impossibility in the first place because he’s ashamed, he’s fearful. Maybe as a spouse you feel the same way. I don’t want anybody else involved in this. I just want to get the report. But we really want someone who can dig deep with us, and that’s what we’re encouraging community relationships to be like. To find someone who is going to ask the tough questions. And so, there is some good organizations out there that can maybe help you find a good accountability partner.
Anne: Perhaps they might think of something like SA, sexaholics anonymous, or SAA, or a 12-step group. Or perhaps a church group or some accountability group that they might be a part of in person, perhaps something like that?
Sam: That’s right. So, I’d highly recommend a 12-step group.
Anne: So, there are a number of places, if someone is very interested in recovery he can find an accountability partner and he can find a group. That’s where we get into trouble a little bit, our listeners, is that we try and do this for him. Right? Like: Oh! This would be a good accountability partner to have. And our community, it sets us up for more abuse, it sets us up for gaslighting and manipulation and lies. The only way to keep ourselves safe in those situations is to set up boundaries. And setting up boundaries for our children can happen now, right, and making sure that our children understand what boundaries are and how they work, and how we can help them set boundaries with their devices through using a tool like Covenant Eyes.
Measures Can Be Taken For Safety
When it comes to inviting an accountability partner, it just so happens at my church, my pastor uses Covenant Eyes and all of our staff does. On a regular basis he’ll send someone to me and ask me to mentor them. So, if you can have a relationship and help educate your pastoral team as well, I think that’s highly valuable that they get the Covenant Eyes resources. We have more than 20 separate eBooks, they’re all free, and you can find them right here next to all the other links that you’re providing. And that can help equip a pastor to equip other people in the church to be a true mentor. And so, as he (pastor) is counseling young couples and singles, he inevitably finds that pornography is often invading their lives.
One of the beautiful things that happened to me this year, was a young man that I was walking with came up to me one Sunday at church and he hands me a card. I opened it up and he’s asked me to be the best man at his wedding. I’m a 50-year-old dude, so (Sam laughing). Simply because I got to walk with him for at least a year.
Anne: BTR believes that anyone can change, and that there is hope for everyone. And secondly, if they have not yet changed or are in the process of their change, if they are exhibiting abusive behaviors toward you, or any member of your family, it’s important to set boundaries around those until the abusive behaviors stops. So, any lying, gaslighting, manipulation, verbal aggression. Any of those types of things need to be stopped before you can engage with them in a healthy way.
So, as so many women are seeing the abusive behavior surrounding it, they’re really wanting their husbands to get into recovery and there’s just no way to do that besides setting boundaries. As you’re considering a plan to keep your family safe from pornography, I want to just really quick go over the layers.
Number 1: Boundaries
2: An accountability software, then some things on your router that we talked about, then on the devices themselves. And also education like we talked about with Protect Young Minds or with Educate and Empower Kids or other organizations that teach parents how to talk to their children. And then also, some recovery resources. And all of those we give through BTR.
It’s so important for people to have this well-rounded approach because, like we talked about at the very beginning, and we’ll end with this, just filtering and hoping that they don’t see it and not having the conversation and not having all these other layers in place, doesn’t do squat. It does nothing to protect you or your family from the harms of pornography.
More Than Just Filtering For Safety
It can help very young, small children, but as soon as your kids are a little bit older and especially teens and adults, it’s just ineffective. You need accountability because accountability involves relationships, that’s the real value.
Anne: So again, if you are interested in having Covenant Eyes installed on the devices in your home for your children, and perhaps a spouse who is interested in recovery. The code for that, for BTR listeners, is BTR. That will give you Covenant Eyes free for 30 days.
Sam: A lot of people worry about: Well I don’t know to manage software, or maybe I’ve got a firewall on my computer or something else I need to worry about. Or, I just don’t know how to do all this. I saw the video but maybe I’m not sure how to get all of this done.
Call us! 8am to midnight, Monday through Friday and 10am-6pm on Saturday’s, Eastern Time. You get to talk to a real live humane being here in the United States at Covenant Eyes, and we will do whatever you need to help you get Covenant Eyes setup on your devices and protect your devices well.
And so, we’re here for you for the long term.
Last month more than 90% of our calls were answered in the first minute. We are the only ones in our industry that do that. It doesn’t make a lot of financial sense, but for us it’s our mission and passion to help change culture and that’s why we do it. We take a lot of pride in our customer support and we are here for you for the long run. There is no contract with Covenant Eyes, so if you’re not happy with us for any reason, you can quit at any time. So, if you sign up for the 30 days free, there’s no risk.
Anne: And that is why I recommend Covenant Eyes.
Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today Sam.
Sam: Anne it’s an honor to be here. Thank you again.
Anne: So, after I finished the official interview with Sam, he actually stayed on the line and helped me put Covenant Eyes on all of my devices, just like their customer service does. And it was actually so much easier than I thought. I was really grateful for the time he took.
So, I have been using Covenant Eyes on all of our devices since this interview happened and thus far it’s going really well. I’m really impressed. I’m still learning how to use it and we will revisit this in a few months and I will let you know how its going.
Accountability Is Necessary
Last week I talked about Giving Tuesday. We are prepping for this annual time of giving so that we can help meet women’s needs. Please consider making a monthly recurring donation. Perhaps doing a fundraiser on Facebook or talking to a business about matching funds. Or any way that you can contribute to BTR to help us take this message to all women in the world who need our help. During the holiday season, as you’re thinking about gifts, I recommend that you go to our books page. There are many books there that can help you. But specifically from our books page you can find Good Pictures/Bad Pictures, Good Pictures/Bad Pictures Jr., the books from Educate and Empower Kids. Please visit our books page as you’re thinking about this gift giving time.
In addition to the books page, some of these episodes leading up to Christmas will showcase some products that I find useful in this fight to keep our homes safe.
I just wanted to bring that up because I know that a lot of you are thinking about Christmas or the holidays and thinking about getting devices for your children, and I want you to include as you’re considering that, how you’re going to protect your children, and how you’re going to protect your home.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on I-tunes. Every single rating helps women who are isolated find us.
Again, we appreciate your recurring donations. To become a financial supporter of BTR main page, scroll down to the bottom, and set your monthly recurring donation.
And until next week, stay safe out there.