Dear Dads: Don’t Just Protect Yourselves from Porn

Dads, don't just protect yourselves from pornRecently we at Covenant Eyes received an e-mail asking why we focus so much on protecting kids. “I’m a guy who signed up for Covenant Eyes because of my own porn problem, not for my family,” he said.

It’s a fair question. After all, porn use is generally considered a guy issue. In fact, our research shows that most of our users are men who use Internet Accountability to fight their own porn battles.

Most of these men also report they are married. And yet, they are the only person using Covenant Eyes in their home.

To these men I say: wake up and smell the coffee.

We are absolutely concerned about adult men and women who are currently struggling with pornography use. We absolutely want you to find freedom. But no man is an island, especially when he has a family, and you are not the only one facing temptation in your home.

Like Parent, Like Child?

Think back to the first time you saw porn. Where were you? Was it your uncle’s private stash? Did a friend in elementary school find a magazine? And how old were you? Dann started using porn magazines when he hit puberty. T.D. was in third grade. Richie was 6 years old.

Now take that first exposure—the random magazine in the gutter or on the playground—and amplify the opportunity of exposure a hundredfold. That’s the power of the Internet. Instead of a magazine in a random gutter, there’s a sexually provocative image in every Google search. Instead of one kid sneaking a copy of Playboy onto school grounds, it’s readily available on a hundred cell phones and iPod touches in the pockets of a hundred kids.

It’s little wonder that, by age 18, 90% of boys and 60% of girls have been exposed to pornography.

In fact, if you’ve been using porn at home, it may be more likely that your children will struggle as well. While no formal research has been conducted regarding porn use, there are distinct correlations of alcoholic parents resulting in alcoholic children, or abused kids growing up to become abusive parents themselves. Joe is one example; he got hooked on porn when he found his father’s stash.

So while you work on conquering your own bad habits, don’t forget: your kids may be taking the first steps toward their own lifelong struggles.

(“But my kids are good kids,” you may be thinking. Or: “Well, my child would never look at porn. He’s just not wired that way.” If that’s true, great. But remember: Natalie was a good kid. So was Jessica. But the lure of Internet porn was stronger than them. And really, wouldn’t your mother have said the same thing about you at their age?)

Don’t (Just) Lead by Example

The point is this: Men, you need to give your kids the same protection you wish was available when you were their age. Protect them. Talk to them about healthy sexuality, and how porn destroys it.

And, of course, get them started on Internet Accountability as soon as they’re old enough to use a computer.

How Your Whole Family Benefits

Of course, there are immediate, practical benefits to protecting your entire family, not just yourself. For one thing, if you leave no computer, smartphone, or tablet in your home unprotected, there’s no way to circumvent Covenant Eyes by just using your wife’s unmonitored computer instead.

There’s also the important matter of customization. Sometimes adults have called into our customer support team, complaining that our Internet Filter blocks too much. That’s when we learn that they’re actually using the Filter at a level set for a child. Sometimes it’s because they’re sharing a username with a child. Protecting each member of your family individually—and customizing their filter settings—alleviates that issue.

It also makes it easier to identify problems quickly. We recently spoke to a user whose family of 12 was sharing a single username. When porn showed up on the Accountability Report, they made the assumption that it was one of their eldest children, and didn’t discover the actual culprit—one of the younger children—until the older ones had moved out. By that time, the child had already spent years developing an addiction to porn.

What Kids Really Think of Covenant Eyes

You would think that kids would protest against using Internet safety software, that they would grumble at the invasion of privacy. Some do, of course. But Covenant Eyes has been around for more than 13 year now—long enough that we’re starting to hear from the kids who grew up using Covenant Eyes.

And they tell us how grateful they are.

According to Abbie, who is featured in the UNFILTERED parent workshop DVD:

When I’m about to click on that link, it’s like I have that constant question in my mind. What would my parents think about this? Is this consistent with the kind of person I want to be? With the things I think are right and good? [Covenant Eyes] allows me to think critically.

Jacqueline, a college student who grew up using Covenant Eyes, says:

Purity is not found in a program. Purity is an attitude of holding oneself to a higher standard than the world sets. Purity is considering the effect of the information we allow into our minds and hearts through our senses and choosing to reject the sensory information that would lead us away from pleasing the Lord. Covenant Eyes is a tool that can encourage us to partner with someone who will encourage us to live in that kind of purity.

I have not had any large Internet struggle or addiction. However, the presence of Covenant Eyes has been used by the Lord as a tool to keep me on that path of purity. I am thankful for the accountability and the standard it holds me to.

Bryan, another Covenant Eyes user, says:

I am very thankful that my mom made this choice [of getting Covenant Eyes] for our family. Having a solid relationship with my parents has helped me fight against sexual struggles because talking with them about my issues helps get secrets “out of the closet” and “on the table.”

Finally, according to Taylor, who was also featured in UNFILTERED:

Being held accountable is arguably the best thing that ever happened for me, especially as I got older, because I was being treated like the adult I was becoming. […]

My dad used to say, “Taylor, never think you’re above temptation.” And it’s because pride comes before a fall. It is so easy to wander into tempting places, and so Accountability was a way for my family to acknowledge the reality of temptation, the reality of sin, and to recognize that no-one is immune. So we stood together. […]

I think that’s the real beauty of Covenant Eyes. It empowers you. It strengthens your capacity not only to recognize temptation, but to turn away from it. It seems to me that that’s what a parent should want for their child.

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