Part of good parenting is keeping track of your kids. You don’t let them go with strangers. You like to know where they are at and who they are with. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
On top of that, we really would like to transfer our family’s values and faith on to our kids. We want them to know the difference between right and wrong, and we like to think they will believe what we parents believe.
Now we have data* that actually shows the connection between accountability and passing on the parents’ good values to their kids. The family that talks together, walks together.
As part of a recent Barna study, we identified thousands of Covenant Eyes members who have used Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability for more than five years. That means their kids were raised in a home with accountability. Over 500 agreed to take the Barna survey. I’ll refer to them as “accountable families.”
So did Internet accountability make a difference? Here are the facts.
How people define “porn”
Accountable families have a stricter definition of porn than the world at large. Only a third of the general population adults (and 43% of teens and young adults) think that the following are all porn:
- A fully nude image that is sexually arousing
- An image of a sexual act that is not intercourse
- An image of sexual intercourse
That means that two-thirds of the population think those things are not all porn. But 80% of accountable families think that all three are porn. The same numbers (32% vs. 83%) apply to “fully nude still pictures.”
But is porn “wrong”?
General population teens rank “not recycling” as being more immoral than “viewing pornographic images.” In fact, they rank “viewing pornographic images” 5th out of 11 choices. The general population adults don’t care so much about not recycling, so they rank “viewing pornographic images” 4th out of 11 choices, and “not recycling” as 9th out of 11.
In the general population adults, the older the person is, the more likely that “viewing pornographic images” will rank high.
Among accountable families, “viewing pornographic images” gets top billing, along with “Having a romantic relationship with someone other than a spouse.” Teens put “viewing pornographic images” as the #1 immoral choice, and adults put it second.
In accountable families, over 80% of teens found images of ALL of the following to be “always wrong,” but half or less than half of the general population teens thought so:
- Images of sexual acts that may be forced or painful
- Images of someone being depicted in a demeaning way
- Images of sexual acts between two people of the same gender
- Images of sexual acts involving more than two people at once.
The accountable family adults were nearly unanimous–over 90% said that those were “always wrong.”
And is porn “bad”?
In the general population, fewer than half under the age of 50 thought that “porn is bad for society.” More than 10% of that age group think porn is actually good for society.
For those over 50 years old (in the general population), there is a more consistent agreement that porn is bad for society. Of those age 51-69, 59% of people think it’s bad, and 81% of those over 70 agree. None of those over 70 thought it was good for society.
Among accountable families, a whopping 97% of adults of all ages think porn is bad for society, and 94% of teens and young adults (ages 13-24) think it’s bad. Only one person out of over 500 people from accountable families thought porn is good for society.
So the verdict is in…
Accountable families are more successful at passing values on from one generation to the next. It makes sense–families that have used Covenant Eyes for more than five years are the type of families that are accountable in other areas of their lives.
I believe Covenant Eyes plays an important role in that pattern. The Covenant Eyes report has been the starting point for 100,000,000 conversations over the last 16 years. If we want our kids to grow up with a godly view of sexuality, then we need to teach them one key thing:
Accountability—especially Internet accountability—matters.
*All data in this article are from “The Porn Phenomenon” study by the Barna Group, 2016.