Parents install filtering or blocking software to protect their kids, but it isn’t doing what they hoped.
There are three big problems with filtering today’s devices. But a few changes can help you better protect your family online. Here’s a quick review of three problems and solutions that can help.
First, filtering or blocking software was designed for browsers like Chrome and Safari. But 90% of our time on a smartphone or pad is spent within apps like Facebook, Twitter, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, filters don’t block inappropriate content within apps, and recent reports show there is an abundance of sexual media and pornography in social media and other apps.
Second, the majority of websites have become encrypted. Look at the address bar of your browser when you go to the Teach Them Diligently blog and you will likely notice a small padlock before https://, which means the connection between your browser and the Teach Them Diligently blog is secure and encrypted. This encryption used to be considered expensive and reserved for credit card and banking websites. Now encryption is commonly used across the web, and search engines give preference to secure sites over unsecure sites in their search results.
The good news is that encryption keeps people from eavesdropping on your online activity. The bad news is that encryption has made the individual pages of the Internet blind to filters and to most accountability software. Today, filters block at the domain level, rather than blocking individual pages. You either block all of Pinterest, YouTube, or some other website, or you allow all of a website. Parents often believe that when they use a filter it will block the nudity on a Pinterest page or other webpage but allow access to good stuff like pie recipes. Not true. Filters either block all of an encrypted website or allow all of that website.
Third, filtering alone is ineffective. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, and tweens, teens, and adults beat up filters until they find a way around them. And these days, because of the reasons listed above, it’s easier than ever before.
That’s the bad news. Here is some good news.
Covenant Eyes released a new technology on March 5 that monitors popular smartphone and computer screens for pornography and sexual media. If such media appears on a screen, blurred screenshots (we don’t want to expose other people to porn) are sent to you in a scannable report. You can learn more about how it works and receive 30 days free through this link.
Covenant Eyes also provides blocking software, because we don’t want our kids accidentally running into porn because of a mistyped word. The blocking will also lock Google, Bing, and Yahoo into a safe search mode, so that your search results are cleaned up. YouTube is also locked into Restricted Mode so that explicit videos can’t be watched.
Finally, none of this works without Mom and Dad. In our online culture today, there is no such thing as set it and forget it. There is no parental control that replaces parenting, no toggle that replaces talks. Covenant Eyes is a tool that engages parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about what they see and do online. Use the reports to have ongoing conversations with your kids about how they spend their time online.
Many parents are fearful of getting started or are not sure what to do. That’s why Covenant Eyes provides free phone support 8 a.m. to midnight EST Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST on Saturdays. The aim is to empower parents to protect their home today, because it’s so easy to procrastinate. Need help? Call 877-479-1119, and guard your home today with 30 days free.
Sam Black is passionate about helping parents guide and protect their kids online. Sam is a vice president at Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability, and the author of “The Porn Circuit: Understand Your Brain and Break Porn Habits in 90 Days.” He joined the Covenant Eyes team in 2007 after 18 years as a journalist. He has edited 16 books on the impact of pornography and how to protect our families. He has been married for 23 years and is a father of two.
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