Protecting your Family from Pornography

I grew up in one of the most sexualized societies in the world. Brazil is known for its Carnival. And Carnival is synonymous with nudity. My evangelical family would usually take a three-day vacation with the Church to a camp near by. The majority of TV stations would air live Carnival coverage 24 hours a day. I am glad that as a little boy I was “sheltered” from such images on my screen.

But as I grew I quickly realized that escaping from those images are not as simple. A three-day vacation is only three days. Unless you were willing to do away with your television and other means of communication, you would be confronted with some level of nudity. This is not an option for the 21st century Christian. So what must a Christian do?

This is where blogger, Tim Challies, offers a tentative helpful plan of action for defending your family from pornography. But before he does this, he begins with a few acknowledgements.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

There are several things I should acknowledge.

Acknowledgement #1. I cannot completely protect my children. It is very nearly inevitable that at some point they will encounter dangerous or pornographic material online. This may be as a result of an unintentional click, it may be curiosity or deliberate desire, or it may be someone showing them something they do not want to see. Though I want to prevent them from ever seeing this material, realistically I also need to teach them how to act when they do.

Acknowledgement #2. Neither Aileen nor I struggle with a desire to look at pornography or to participate in dangerous or perverse online activities, so while many people wisely put measures in place to guard themselves from such sin, this is not an urgent concern for us. However, I will still attempt to address it as I go.

Acknowledgement #3. Aileen and I do not believe that, at least for now, our children have the right to privacy on their devices. We believe it is well within our rights as parents to inspect our children’s devices, to monitor the way they use them, and to take their devices away if they misuse them.

THE LAY OF THE LAND

Like so many families, we have accumulated an embarrassing number of Internet-enabled devices, some by purchase and some as gifts. None of them are the latest and greatest models, but none of them is quite obsolete either. As we build a solution to monitor and protect the family, we need it to account for a PC with Windows and both an iMac and MacBooks running OSX. Some of these are personal devices (e.g. my laptop) while some are shared by all the family members (e.g. the iMac and the PC). We also need a solution to account for smartphones, tablets and iPod Touches.

ACTION

Here are the initial actions I have taken.

Software
My plan is to rely, as much as possible, on Covenant Eyes. I will use it first, and if I find it disappointing, look elsewhere. I have installed it on all of our computers. I created an account for each of us with myself as the one who will receive weekly accountability reports. I set both the accountability and the filtering to the Teen (T) setting for each of the children. Aileen and I will have accountability but no filtering. As part of this plan, I had to make sure each computer was set to go to sleep quickly following use (since this will force the next person to log in to their own account).

Computers
I have created an account for each of us on the PC and for any of us who uses one of the Macs. Each account has a password known only to the account holder and to Aileen and me.

Tablets
I have an iPad I use primarily for preaching and speaking; it has a password known only to Aileen and me. We also have an old, first generation iPad (left over from my contractor days) which has only very old games and apps. We disabled the browser and the ability to install new software without a password.

iPods & Cell Phones
The children’s iPods Touches (which they bought with paper route money) have a password known to that child and to mom and dad. Mom and dad maintain the “system” password which controls the security settings. We disabled the browser, the YouTube app, and the ability to install new software without a password.

I considered disabling the camera, but have not yet done that. I also considered using the Covenant Eyes web browser which would then apply filtering and accountability, but I see no reason (at least for now) that the kids need to browse the Web through their devices.

TV
We do not have cable TV, so do not need to account for that.

COST

Covenant Eyes is not free software, so there is some cost involved. This plan, as it stands, costs $22.99 per month which seems reasonable enough. a

Obviously these may not be the perfect strategy, but it is a strategy nevertheless, and most parents don’t have any. Pornography is a violent cancer that brings about a slow and terrifying death to the addict and to those around them. Pornography is an enemy and to attack it you need a plan. Behold, a plan!

  1. Tim is in Canada, but in the U.S., Covenant Eyes is cheaper  (back)
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