Covenant Eyes: There When You’re Not
“I don’t know what to do, we hadn’t even talked to him about sexuality yet, he’s so young. I just found out he’s been watching pornography, though. What do I do?”
We’ve heard this from several moms – just this week! And the ages would break your heart. Seven, eight, and nine year olds being exposed to things no one should ever see.
The first thing we told them is that you need to get some kind of accountability on every single internet device in your home.
I gave that advice to a mom at a conference recently and she said, “I don’t need that stuff. We keep the computer in the kitchen.” I wondered if that was really the only internet available in her house. No smartphones? No work laptop? No Kindles or iPods or tablets? And even if not, does she sleep in the kitchen?
It’s a serious question. One mom this week told us her little boy, eight or nine, I think, was getting up in the middle of the night to look at porn on her iPad. Having the computer in a public area is no protection at night.
Covenant Eyes is the best protection we know of. Here’s how it works:
First, you sign up for an account. If you click through one of our links (Click to go to Covenant Eyes), you can try it free for a month and it supports our ministry. We recommended them for years before they offered to do that, though. We’ve used it ourselves as a family for over a decade.
Set up a username and password for every member of your family that needs internet access. We recommend the family plan that’s $13.99 a month (individual accounts are $9.99) and will allow you to set up the whole family and all your devices at no extra charge. For younger children who need internet access, you can set up filtering to control where they can go.
We don’t recommend you rely entirely on filtering to protect young children, though, as no filtering is perfect. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” the Word tells us. In our house, if you are under thirteen, you need to sit with someone older to access the internet on their login – and they don’t leave you because they don’t want to be responsible for what you do! We realize, though, that some parents will need to have access for younger children.
For teens and adults, we recommend accountability. That doesn’t control where you go (and therefore limit usability as filters sometimes can), but it lets your accountability partner know if you blow it. We think that’s a great way to teach self control. Whenever you’re tempted to click on that sidebar picture, you remember mom’s going to know in a few days. After awhile, we hope that will translate to remembering that God’s going to know even if Mom doesn’t.
Install the software on every internet capable device in your home. It’ll work on your PCs, Macs, Android, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Kindle. Every device is like a door into a large city. You can visit museums and universities and stores – or – skid row, gambling dens and houses of prostitution.
Check the reports each week when you get them. It’s not hard! There are seven of us old enough to have internet access (our older sons have asked us to remain their accountability until marriage). I don’t have time for long reports! Thankfully, Covenant Eyes makes it easy. If the subject line of a report says, “Such and such’s Report Looks Good,” you don’t even have to open it (with one exception we’ll discuss later).
If it says, “Such and such’s Report Needs Review,” then you open it up and check it out. Maybe they’ve been clicking through to a questionable page – it may or may not be a problem. Even then, the report isn’t acres of links, but instead will say something like, “Went to this page, which may be a problem because of _____ and twenty more pages like it. ”
On the other hand, if the subject says, “Such and such’s Report Needs Urgent Close Review,” somebody’s going to have a very bad
The ability to customize the reporting for each username means you’re not going to be bothered every time your 17yo visits Facebook, but you’ll be notified if your 13yo is there! We love that. The needs of an 8yo are different from the needs of a 17yo are different from the needs of an adult. Click here to see a full annotated report that shows you what it looks like and what to look for.
Watch out for programmers in your family. Covenant Eyes isn’t perfect. There are ways to avoid accountability, but they require more than most people’s comfort level with computer use. We won’t be sharing how to get around CE here, but here’s how to catch someone bypassing the system: Always check the hours of use. If one of your family members is spending hours a day in front of the computer or doodling around on their phone, but you see little usage in their Covenant Eyes report (especially if they are always getting a “Looks Good” report, then you need to ask questions. A lot of questions.
Don’t stop there. Covenant Eyes is just the beginning. It provides a layer of protection to keep everyone accountable, but it can’t have a conversation with your children. You need to be giving your children a Biblical context for sexuality. You need to be the ones they rely on for information. Many children are first exposed to porn when they hear a word they don’t understand and then wait until mom’s not around and Google it. Whoops! The links are right there. Make sure your children know to come ask you instead. Make sure they feel comfortable doing that.
For help in talking to your children about sexuality and in knowing what to do if they’re exposed to porn, download our workshop, Shining Armor: Your Son’s Battle for Purity.
Please, get Covenant Eyes today. We talked to a mom this week who would give anything to have her children’s innocence back. She’s feeling especially awful because she’d heard us say this again and again and kept putting it off. Don’t. You don’t have to be a bad kid to fall into porn these days. It’s out there looking for them. You be there to protect them.
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie