About the author, Chris McKenna

Chris is the Covenant Eyes Educational Resource Manager. Chris has a BA in Accountancy and Spanish from Western Michigan University. After 12 years in business advising with Ernst & Young, God led Chris to a full-time student ministry role. He started protectyoungeyes.com in 2015  as a ministry to equip and educate parents and teens on the latest gadgets, apps, and how to use the Internet well, which led him to Covenant Eyes. God works in unexpected ways!

View all posts by Chris McKenna →

171 thoughts on “Better iPhone Accountability? There’s an App for That!

  1. There is a loophole I have noticed with Apple restrictions in general, and my question is if the covenant eyes app will cover this.

    The loophole is that even with restrictions enabled, all internet browsing capability turned off, websites restricted to no websites allowed, I can still jump on the public wifi at Anytime Fitness for example, which brings me to their home page (after accepting terms and conditions) in some sort of “hidden browser”, and it allows me to navigate from there all over the internet. This is kind of a huge loophole for Apple restrictions, but if I install the new CovenantEyes app, will this also be monitored/restricted/blocked?

    I would very much like this to be the case, as I do not want any internet browsing capability on my phone at all. This is my first smart phone, and my company requires that I have it for travel. For good reason, I have never owned a smart phone before this.

    • Hi, Bob – I’m not sure I completely understand the “loophole” you’re referring to. There must be some browser on your phone you’re not aware of. I’d call customer service 877-479-1119 so that they can help you identify where it might be, if this is your first smartphone. Regardless, the CE app will force a safe search in both Google and Bing through whatever browser you might be using.


    • Chris,

      I have spoken extensively with Apple about this. Apparently iphones have a “hidden browser” which allows you to accept unsecured public wifi terms and conditions even when Safari is disabled under restrictions, and there are no other browsers installed. After accepting terms and conditions, this “hidden browser” then usually redirects to the webpage of whoever is providing the public wifi.

      I was hoping that the CE app would monitor this “hidden browser” as well, since all iphones have it, and it cannot be uninstalled or restricted.


    • Hi, Bob – if you are accessing this hidden browser through your iPhone, then our VPN should be monitoring the activity in that browser in the same way it monitors Safari or Opera or any other browser on the phone. The CE app should force a safe search in both Google and Bing and rate anything that is clicked on. You can test what I’m saying by accessing the webpage of whoever is providing the public wifi, and then go check your detailed browsing log in My Account. Let me know (because I’m curious) if you see the URL of the site listed. Thanks.

      Best, Chris

    • Chris,

      I believe I have found a workaround, thanks to a suggestion of one of the techs at CovenantEyes. I re-enabled Safari in Restrictions, but used Restrictions to enforce an “allow list” for websites, and I put only one (very safe) website on the allow list.

      What happens now is whenever I get on public wifi, The hidden browser still pops up asking me to accept terms and conditions, which I do, but then once I do that, it goes away and the phone attempts to open the business homepage in Safari (instead of in the hidden browser), which then gets immediately blocked, due to the restrictions in place.

      So far this has kept me 100% safe on my iphone, which is great!!

    • Wow, Bob, I’m impressed with your tenacity in finding a solution! Thank you for sharing it.


    • This is a truly amazing breakthrough and I’m so thankful for this new vpn total device monitoring service. The common workarounds have been eliminated and are now sent to your accountability partners. Even if you try to turn off vpn it automatically immediately turns itself right back on and I feel like I have the freedom to use my entire phone safely again. Thank you covenant eyes for your hard work and dedication we can’t fight this battle alone. I would also recommend keeping restrictions on and restricting safari (just for better monitoring the CE app works just as well and you won’t notice a difference) also have apple limit adult content on in restrictions and never allow list the other search engines other than bing and google. The con picks them up and sends them to your accountability partner but at least they will be blocked as well then.

    • Hi, Jeff – it’s not device specific…it’s OS specific, so whatever Apple devices support at least iOS 9 we should be fine on.


    • Chris,

      Is Instagram monitored from your iphone with Covenant Eyes? Meaning anything photo wise that is not appropriate or wording?

    • Hi, Brenda – no, Covenant Eyes does not monitor Instagram in the way that I think you’re intending. What we can see is that someone used “instagram.com,” but we can’t filter or report on anything other than that top-level domain name. We’re working on some exciting things that are going to try and solve some issues, but for now, CE, along with everyone else on earth, is stuck with not being able to really do much of anything on iPhones because they keep the operating system so locked down.


  2. This sounds promising, but I want to clarify something. I would want to use Safari, since the browsing experience is superior to the Covenant eyes browser. You mentioned that things would be filtered only at the domain level. Does that mean something like Reddit would only be flagged as me visiting reddit.com, rather than seeing the exact page/subreddit I’m going to? Because reddit had tons of content, some fine, some terrible. I guess, can you clarify what you mean by domain level filtering?

    • Hi, Alex – if you visit Reddit.com through Safari, I believe Reddit is a HM site and would therefore be rated and shown in the iOS section of the report. This would just have to be something to discuss with your accountability partner if you spending time in Reddit is a good idea because at this time, we don’t rate everything within each Reddit URL.


  3. Can’t tell if the new app is downloaded or not. Got latest update on App Store (no “Update” option exists, only “Open”), but I have version, and it looks like the new version is 4.0.0?

    How can I tell if I have the new version?

    • Hi, Sam – you can tell it’s working because it activates the VPN and you’ll see the capital letters VPN at the top with a box around it. Without that, the new CE app isn’t working properly or wasn’t installed properly. Please call customer service at 877-479-1119 for additional help.


  4. Is there a way to have youtube left off restricted mode? I have tried using Youtube’s Restricted Mode before, but it blocks so many videos that it shouldn’t that I’ve always left it off. For instance, often blocks videos from Christian youtube channels such as Blimey Cow or channels discussing Tolkien’s works such as Signum University. Having the ability to leave youtube unrestricted would make it much more useable. A potential solution (though obviously I don’t know how feasible) would be to have videos be approved by having the administrator put in the password, like is done with websites that covenant eyes blocks. I do appreciate your service and have used it for several years now.


    • Hi, Paul – we only force YouTube restricted mode if you’re also using our filter. Is that the case for you? If you’re a filter user, then as far as I know, there’s no way to keep YouTube out of Restricted Mode. Please contact customer service at 877-479-1119 if you would like to confirm this understanding with them.


  5. Just got an iPhone 8 yesterday. New Covenant Eyes app loaded, and started VPN. Now, videos won’t start in Netflix. Is there something work this new VPN that blocks Netflix?

    • Hi, Dwayne – not that we’re aware of. Is there anything in the iOS Restrictions that might be set and causing problems? Our customer service team might be able to trouble shoot a little more if you want to call them at 877-479-1119.


  6. I’m so glad that this update is finally out! It will provide a much better picture of accountability overall, and that is better for all of us!

    • Wow… I’m assuming that this will add accountability to other apps with in app browsing. If so, that’s nothing short of phenomenal!

    • Hi, Jusayn – you’re correct. The new CE app will monitor browsers accessed within other apps, and for any site rated highly mature that is clicked on, it will show up in a new report section at the bottom that is just for iOS activity. It’s pretty great!


    • I am excited about this as well! Thank you for all the work put into this. One question: does this mean we can now safely install apps with built in browsers and still be accountable?

    • Hi, Tim – the new CE App will monitor some activity in those built-in browsers. It will force a safe search in both Google and Bing, which is great. My suggestion then for a really safe iPhone experience is to “block list” the other popular browsers/engines in the iOS Restrictions (like Chrome, Yahoo, Aol, etc.), and have someone else control the 4-digit restrictions code. That will narrow the searching to just Google and Bing, and then the CE app will force a safer browsing experience. I hope that helps!


  7. Just installed! Thank you for working diligently, as I know many have been waiting for this. One question, any idea what this will do to the battery life of my iPhone?

    • Hi, Steven – so far (and I’d love to know your experience so far) I have not noticed a significant battery difference.

    • My kids want me to delete the app now because it is draining their battery. The app requires background app refresh running all of the time to work, so even when they are not us No their phone, their battery is draining quickly.

      My son did delete the app and chooses to have to browser on his phone rather than lose his battery life.

      Any chance this will be fixed in the near future Chris?

    • Hello, Angela – I’ve only heard of a few instances of battery drain on the device with the new app, and I’m sorry that this is happening to you, also. The new features are making different demands of the iOS device, but honestly, I think they’re worth it. The ability to monitor all apps at that domain level is really an incredible feat that no one else can do. In the meantime, I’ve logged this as an additional mention of the battery impact for our Development Team to keep on their list!


    • Hi, Bill – this is a known issue that we’re working on to replicate and remediate. The new features do seem to cause increased battery drain for a population of iOS members.

      Regards, Chris

    • The new app will for safe search within the Google app and it will report all highly mature domains that are clicked on if you use the Google search app.


    • Hi, Markian – I’ll use Tumblr as an example. CE rates http://www.tumblr.com as highly mature. If someone goes to a tumblr micro blog, maybe something like (I’m making this up), http://www.tumblr.com/swimsuitgirls, then the top-level domain “www.tumblr.com” would show up on the report at the bottom because the new app identified that someone used Tumblr. We don’t identify the full URL through the Tumblr app because there is a lot of secured communication that no one has access to, but our new technology can identify the initial “call” to the Internet with tumblr.com. That’s what we mean by “top level domain.” We would love to be able to see the entire URL, but we just can’t. But, what we’re now able to see if amazing, and the best iOS accountability on the market.


  8. Thank you for all of your work on this. My patience was extremely tested during this wait, but now that it is here, I am happy to say it was worth the wait. I have been using this new VPN for 24 hours now, and can say that there have been no bugs or glitches… it is really exceptional. I love that I can finally use Safari safely, and all other apps are also monitored. Thank you CE!!

  9. My company phone has a MobileIron VPN which must remain. If I download new iPhine version and there is a conflict with getting the CovenantEyes VPN installed, is the an option to turn it off and use your I currently do with just the CovenantEyes browser?

    • Yes, you should be able to still use the CE browser without the app fully monitoring the phone through the VPN. If you have trouble with that, please call one of our customer service representatives at 877-479-1119 and they will be happy to help.


  10. I am really pleased with the progress this update has made for device wide monitoring, it’s a huge step in the right direction. I hope the level of monitoring will be enhanced to the same level that we see with the CE browser across all the apps (Safari, etc). Having less monitoring available with the restrictions off is where you guys need to be. I assume that is still being worked on?

    • Hi, Adam – we are constantly trying to dig deeper into iOS. I know it was a long time coming, but this most recent release is a deeper dive into iOS than anyone on the market today. I’m glad you’re pleased! I am, too.


    • Hi, Tim – that seems unusual to me. Can you please call customer service at 877-479-1119 and see if they can help? Without the VPN step, you won’t obtain the additional monitoring that you seem to be now achieving on the iPad.


  11. One thing that isn’t clear, is if the VPN must be active to provide protection for safari and other apps. If the VPN is turned off, am I still being protected? I access a different, secure VPN for work email and applications, and they have indicated it may conflict with my work IT permissions. I will have to turn off the CE VPN while working, so want to know if it still provides any protection.

    Please advise, thanks.

    • Hi, Kyle it is necessary to have the VPN engaged in order to obtain the expended accountability protection. The VPN is the key. Otherwise, the best iOS protection comes through using our browser and if you have iOS restrictions enabled and Safari turned off.


    • Hi, Hans – on an iPhone, are you referring to searching for apps on the device? It sounds more like the Spotlight search on a Mac, and this update is just for iOS (iPad, iPhone). If I haven’t answered your question correctly, please contact customer service at 1.877.479.1119 and someone can provide additional help!


    • Hi, Mig – that’s more of a YouTube question. There’s something in the way the video has been tagged that is being flagged by YouTube’s restricted mode filtering. You’ll have to send them a note and ask :)


    • I should’ve been more clear, I am looking at this video through Covenant Eyes. I am not using the YouTube app. This didn’t start happening until the new update.

    • Oh, I bet you are also a filter user, which is why it’s forcing a YouTube “restricted mode.” As of right now, there’s no way to toggle that off, but I’ve had a couple of people comment in a similar fashion, so I’m going to pass this along to our Dev. team for consideration.


    • Chris,

      So if you’re a filter user then you are now stuck using YouTube in restricted mode? Is that what your last comment is referring to?

    • Hi, Bill, yes, that is true. YouTube is now automatically in Restricted Mode for iOS filter users. We have logged this “requirement” as something that is causing some consternation with our members. It’s definitely on our list of changes to consider.


  12. I downloaded the app and it destroyed my battery life. Is there a way to fix this with an update? I have a month old iPhone 8. The battery is new and when I removed the app it went back to normal battery use.

    • Hi, Jon – ok, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve so far had pretty minimal battery impact on my iPhone 6 (which I know isn’t the 8 that you have). I’ll pass this along to our Dev. team to see if they’re receiving similar feedback.


  13. Definitely needs a way to turn YouTube restricted mode off as YouTube is almost unusable now, blocks way too many normal things for people who aren’t kids. Going to have to look elsewhere if you can’t fix this.

    • Hi, Joshua – I’ve received this same comment from a few people. I’m passing this along to our Dev. team for consideration. Please hang with us! It’s our first try at some pretty great improvements.


  14. App and vpn filter was working flawlessly, but after several hours, the VPN only tracked the sites I visited on safari and other apps, not filtered like it’s supposed to. Have any ideas?

    • Hi, Michael – I’m trying to understand what you mean by “filtering” in regards to Safari and other apps. Right now, the new app doesn’t filter on Safari and other apps, and simply rates whatever is clicked and forces a safe search for Google and Bing. When you say “tracked the sites I visited,” that’s actually what I would be expecting it to do. Can you describe in more detail what it was doing initially that gave you the impression that the app was “filtering?” Thank you.


  15. First of all, outstanding update! Are there any “additional” benefits provided using the CE vpn that you would normally gain using another commercial vpn (encryption, securing data, identification of web traffic, protection using public WiFi or while traveling, etc.?)

  16. I’ve bedn using the CE browser for a few years, no problem. With the new VPN version, though, pages don’t load unless I refresh them a second time after they try to load without anything loading. Can you help?

    • Hi, Joaquin, that’s an unusual problem that I haven’t run into yet. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong, it’s just the first time that it’s been mentioned through the blog. The best I can recommend is to call customer service at 877-479-1119 and see if they’ve run into this issue and have a solution for you.


    • I’ve had the same problem, but only on google. When I first load a google search, it doesn’t show anything until I switch to tab view and back, then everything works normally. It happens every time I open a new google search.

  17. I have the VPN on my phone now which is great, but it blocks my church app. I attend CCV in Arizona but their app will not update now because of the VPN , at least I assume it is this. This is the only thing that has changed. And now the app won’t update.

    • Hi, Nate – that’s unusual. The fact that the issue seems to be only isolated to the church app might indicate an issue with the church app, unless you notice a similar update problem with other apps. Can you please email me a link to your church app at: chris.mckenna@covenanteyes.com? Also, any print screens that show what you see that makes you think “it blocks my church app.” Those would also be helpful. Thank you.

      Best, Chris

  18. Hey Chris, great work on this and I really appreciate you take the time to answer everybody’s questions! Is there any way to twist Apple’s arm and have them give us the option to turn VPN configuration off in Restrictions, like you’d turn off Safari? I’m sure you see the issue having VPN configuration unrestricted, but won’t go into specifics in case other readers don’t.

    • Hi, Jonny, thank you, and wouldn’t that be great?! I’d love that feature and the toggle to disallow deleting iMessages so that kids can’t cover up inappropriate messaging activity, but for now, we don’t have either! It’s a great idea and we agree that having less access to VPN configuration would be helpful. Here’s the thing – if I’m in an accountability relationship, and I don’t notice anything showing up in the new iOS section of the Accountability Report over a relatively short period of time, then I should be suspicious that the VPN has been tampered with in some way. I’ve found that the new app is sensitive enough that it ends up flagging things quite regularly.

      Best, Chris

  19. In Zimababwe we have “WhatsApp Data bundles” and basically you can only access the internet through WhatsApps domain. Do you think this vpn will work, even though I can only connect to WhatsApp?

    • Hello, Chayce – that’s a unique question. Have you actually tried what you’re wondering about? I just read an article about these “data bundles,” since I didn’t know what they were, and it seems like it’s just a way to use data through a social media platform (WhatsApp, Facebook) on a prepaid phone. Our CE App should still monitor and report any highly mature domain that is clicked on while using that data. My question – are you using an iPhone? I wasn’t aware of pre-paid and other such plans on iPhones. If you’re using Android, then the features we describe in this blog post won’t apply. I hope that helps!

      Best, Chris

  20. I think this is a good idea. However, ever since mine updated on my iphone, i have been unable to synchronize my phone with my work Microsoft Outlook. Thus i’m not able to get to my work emails and synchronize my contacts and calendar. Any ideas?

    • Hi, James – I don’t have a good response for the issue you’ve raised. Can you please call customer service at 877-479-1119? Maybe they’ve dealt with this issue.


  21. Chris,

    Are there intentions in the future to expand VPN monitoring more than the Highly Mature level? Also, would it be possible to notify the accountability partner if the VPN is disabled by the user?

    • Hi, Justin – those are both things that have been mentioned internally (e.g., expanding to also include Mature ratings). Great suggestions. They are both on a list with our development team. No promises, but they are definitely on the list and I appreciate that you’ve mentioned them here.


  22. Thanks for answering all the questions so promptly. And for diligently working to improve the product especially with iphones which are so difficult to monitor.

    My question is regarding reports. I would on occasion view the report online in detail and then click through to a link of various ratings to see what the actual website visit was. After updating and running under the vpn most logged events from the phone begin with dns:// and I cannot click through. Is this an indication the website was visited via a link in email or an app rather than from Covenant Eyes web browser? I have not yet activated Safari, or other browsers and have the restrictions still in place as before the update. Is there a way to click through to a site that begins with dns://,

    For example from report dns://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net……….. I tries searching scontent.xx.fbcdn.net and I find this is something about facebook photos. I do not have facebook app on the phone. The facebook account has been closed but sometimes I think you can click a link and see a public facebook photo without being logged in to facebook. Might this be where this link went/came from? Sorry if I did not explain this clearly.

    • Hi, Donna – I apologize for the slow response. The VPN is going to report a lot of domain (DNS) activity that at times, will seem like gibberish on the Detailed Browsing Log. It’s now intercepting “calls” from the device to the web that are occurring across the entire device, which is much, much more web activity than we used to capture from iOS (which was just activity in our browser). Clicking through, as you’ve tried, isn’t going to take you to a page you can visit all of the time. In reviewing the detailed browsing history, the key is to look for the top-level addresses, like “tumblr.com” or “Facebook.com” or “instagram.com” so that you can then have conversations with whoever you’re holding accountable about other activity that might have occurred within the app (that you won’t always be able to see).

      BTW, you’re correct that there are parts of Facebook that you can still “see” by clicking an email, going to Safari, and accessing FB that way, even if you’re not logged in to Facebook.

      If you have additional questions or if I haven’t done a good job of answering your question, please give one of our amazing Customer Service Reps a call at 1-877-479-1119 for more help!

  23. Chris,

    I’ve been going back and forth with the support team regarding some issues in recent reports my partner and I have received since updating to 4.0, and while one of my questions regarding how the VPN works is being addressed, I haven’t received a clear answer as to what should now be showing on my reports.

    My issues:
    1. If I reboot my phone, the CE VPN notifies me and reports that accountability has been turned off and that if the phone is updating, accountability will be turned back on automatically. I can see that the VPN is back on after a reboot but CE does not notify or report that accountability has in fact been turned back on.

    The support team has acknowledged that this is causing some confusion. I’d like to know if the app can be updated to include reporting that VPN accountability is back on and working properly so my accountability partner and I aren’t scratching our heads?

    2. Because of the most recent 4.0 CE iOS app update that allows for more accountability across the entire Apple device due to the VPN access, we have re-enabled usage of the Safari browser with restrictions as of 11/19 because of how quirky the CE browser is and because we were under the impression that usage of Safari would still be reported. However, only intermittent usage was reported during the following week, none of which were sites accessed in Safari on my iPhone. Using the most recent iOS app, should usage of apps or the safari browser be reported or will the reports only show what I do within the CE browser?

    I understand that to get the most accurate and detailed reporting, using the CE browser is the best option. It was also my understanding that Safari usage should still be on the report, just not as detailed? As many of the iOS users above agree, the loss of Safari usage has been a struggle, so having the ability to now use it with restrictions still enabled like I do and still have full accountability, is huge!

    Thanks for all the work you and the CE team are doing, hoping you may be able to provide some more direct answers to my questions.


    • Hello, Kyle – I do apologize for the slow response. (1) Yes, a wonderful idea and noted (I have a list that is shared with our Development Team). (2) For Safari, it rates every site visited, but only include in the Accountability Report those sites that are clicked and rated highly mature. Everything, even through Safari, is rated in the detailed browsing history, but only HM sites hit the report. I hope that helps answer your questions!

      Regards, Chris

  24. My Covenant Eyes web browser app, Simply Piano App and Evernote app have been crashing eversince the VPN feature was intalled. What is going on? If I try to turn off the VPN on the settings, it goes right back on automatically.

    • Hello, Juan Pablo – it’s curious to me that those 2 apps are the ones crashing. Can you please give our customer service team a call to see if this is something that’s been occurring with other members? 1-877-479-1119. Thank you!

      Regards, Chris

    • Hi, Neil – yes, any time that the VPN is disabled, it will send a notification to the accountability report saying that the accountability service was uninstalled. At some point in the not-so-distant future, this notification would be sent directly to an accountability partner akin to a text message.

      Best, Chris

    • My partner disables the vpn and it has never shown up on the report, or notified me at all. Is this a fix we can hope for in the future?

    • Hi, Kim – this should not be the case. Can you please make sure that your partner’s device is using the most updated version of CE? It should throw a notification to the report when the VPN is disabled.


    • Hello, Kim – I’m sorry to hear that. Let me check with our mobile development team and get back to you.


  25. Does the covenant eyes browser app have to be running for the VPN to work through the other apps? I don’t like having 17+ apps allowed in the restrictions. I use the Mobicip browser, and it is rated 4+…and it allows internet access and browsing to the level that you set it. Why can’t the CE browser be rated lower?

    • Hi, Jen – we’ve tried and tried to have it rated lower, but Apple’s not listening (or being consistent). If you have the CE app loaded (and apps 17+ allowed in Restrictions), and then subsequently go and lower the allowed apps to 12 in Restrictions, the CE VPN will continue to run and monitor the device. You just won’t have access to the CE Browser anymore. But, it doesn’t seem like that’s a problem, since you’re using the Mobicip browser (which I’ve used often – it’s a good browser). I hope that answers your question!


    • I don’t think so Jeff, I was able to browse and see everything on APP store with the CE installed. Wish there was something that did filter the APP store.. :-(

    • Hi, Jen and Jeff – the App Store is the wild west, and you’re correct that we don’t have any filtering ability in there (nor does anyone else, unfortunately!). I’m sure you’re aware of how to toggle it off in Restrictions, but just in case, here’s a post that helps.

      Regards, Chris

  26. I am unable to turn off the VPN setting with is killing my battery life. My phone dies in 2-3 hours of normal use with CE taking up 20% usage despite me not using the app at all.

    Is there any way to revert back to the way without the VPN? Every time I switch it off on my phone, it immediately auto-switches on.

  27. Hi,
    The new update sounds great!
    Just need a helping hand in understanding how it works.
    I get the fact that CE monitors all traffic through the CE browser.
    What does it monitor when the internet is accessed through a third party app?
    Does it only monitor the primary URL or or does it also drill down to the specific page?
    Take any shopping app as an example. If someone looks at a dodgy product on the shopping app, will it drill down to that page and flag it as inappropriate or will it just be classed as having visited that shops site and (I presume) therefore ok?
    Many thanks for your help.

    • Hi, Yitlo – you’re description of how the CE browser works is accurate. For everything else, our service now grabs the top-level domain of whatever you’re doing (app), rates it, and if it’s a highly mature domain, it shows up in a special, new section of the accountability report. Now, ALL domain traffic is rated, even if it’s not highly mature, which you can see in the detailed browsing log. But, the only thing (for now) that hits the report is HM traffic. So, in your illustration, it would grab the shopping site URL (e.g., amazon.com) and rate that, but it wouldn’t rate the inappropriate items that someone might be shopping for :) I hope that helps!


  28. Hey Chris,
    I keep getting very vulgar and pornographic websites being flagged on my husbands CE account. These are being flagged via the new iOS app update. He’s assured me this is not his doing but that it must be coming in through one of the apps he plays games on. Wondering the validity of this? When I checked the accountability report that describes this part of the app update…it was ambiguous and semi made me think that perhaps there are dirty websites soliciting themselves via other non pornographic game apps (such as words with friends, etc). Could you please give me some clarity on what exactly the CE app flags when it tracks apps he is using? Thanks!

    • Hi, Hannah – question, have you looked at the Detailed Browsing Log in his My Account? It will show you the time the highly mature site(s) were visited and what other activity was going on on either side of the HM visits, which might provide some answers. To be specific, the CE app only rates things that are clicked on (for activity outside of the CE browser). So, if there’s an app being used, and it flashes a pornographic ad, then it’s highly unlikely (based on my understanding of its functionality) that the new CE app would flag the ad unless it was actually clicked on.

      I hope that helps a little. Please let me know if you have more questions, or our customer support team (877-479-1119).


    • I am also having flagged sites listed on the detailed browsing log. Some are insecure sites, not even an operating site, and others are pornographic and immoral. I have not clicked on those web pages, ads, or have even seen them. It lists and flags things that were not even seen. Would an ad blocker help? I use the CE browser only and use Wunderground and Storm and Whatsapp. I’ve never seen anything like its picking up, and I don’t even know what app I was even in when it flagged it. It seems like its in the background somewhere.

    • Hi, Jeff – from the detailed browsing log, can you identify any pattern that precede the inappropriate sites that are being picked up by our App? Also, can you send me a listing of the apps that you have running on your phone right now? This one has me curious (email me below what you find out).


    • Hi, Ryan – no, it does not notify you if a new app is downloaded. I bet you already know about these, but both Restrictions and Family Sharing provide great functionality around app download permissions, if that’s an area of concern.


  29. My comment above is still awaiting moderation and hasn’t been answered?? Is there an answer? Thanks!

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Does the covenant eyes browser app have to be running for the VPN to work through the other apps? I don’t like having 17+ apps allowed in the restrictions. I use the Mobicip browser, and it is rated 4+…and it allows internet access and browsing to the level that you set it. Why can’t the CE browser be rated lower?”

    • Hello, Jen – I’m so sorry that your original comment was missed. I’ve apparently not done a great job staying on top of them! I believe that I answered it yesterday, but if you have other questions, please let me know.


  30. VPN monitoring question. Will the new app monitor all the sites I access from within an app or just the highly mature ones? For instance could my accountability partner run a detailed browsing history and see everything accessed from the IOS or just the HM rated ones? If only the HM ones then I don’t think I can start using this yet.

    • Hi, JB – everything is reported in the detailed browsing log, but only HM make their way to the report. We are considering potential changes to expand the reporting in a future release.


  31. Is there anyone here who can give me a full review of this new CE software for iPhone? I’m currently on android and CE doesn’t monitor in-app browsers but from this article it’s my understanding that the new CE for iPhone does kinda do that. So anyone here that has iPhone, does it monitor/record stuff you access through in-app browsers like in snapchat and facebook? Cuz on my android, I had to have my wife set locks on snapchat, etc, because I could just message myself in it with a link to google or something and browse it as if it was just the normal browser. Any insight would be appreciated! :)

    Thanks guys

    • Hi, Cale – if you read through the comments and my responses here, I bet you’ll get a pretty good idea of what the app does. The “hidden” access points to Google are all covered on the phone with a forced safe search. It’s great. Some of the items that people have commented on as “con’s” of the app so far are (1) increased battery drain and (2) the “forced” YouTube restricted mode for those who also use our filter. Both of these repeating items have been passed on by me to our Development team and are being discussed. With this new app, and using Apple’s Restrictions, I believe CE now makes an iOS device much more porn-proof than an Android phone. That’s just my opinion! I’d love to hear others.


  32. I’m trying to delete the images app from imessages running ios 11.2.1 and it doesn’t seem to let me permanently delete it. I keep seeing it as still available. Do you know a solution to remove images app from imessage?

    • Hi, JB – I’m trying to track something down. Sorry, I should have told you that in response to your first post! Let me keep trying.


    • Can you let me know when you find something out by emailing me? My wife and I want to make sure that aspect of image searching is locked down as well.

  33. I second the battery life issue. My iPhone 6s’s battery is dead halfway through the day now that I’m using the VPN. I’d like to turn off the VPN because the benefits are outweighed by the battery life issue for me.

  34. Thanks for answering my other question above, I appreciate that! I have another question….when you say CE flags HM sites (say if they were accessed through Safari) Does that mean they are blocked, or they just show up on the log as viewed?
    Also, should I set up a user account exclusively for a device, or use and existing account?

    • Hi, Jen – at this time, they are listed in the accountability report (“flagged”), but not blocked. In order to identify a certain device use, then each user on an account should have his/her own profile, and each time they use a device, they should login to that device using their own username and password so that all activity is associated to that person and his/her own accountability report. I hope that makes sense!

      Regards, Chris

  35. The new section at the bottom of the email that gets sent to accountability partners, the one containing IOS activity, contains LIVE LINKS. I thought I was clicking a link that would take me to a report of activity, and instead an actual porn site launched. I assume this is an oversight, please fix this or at least clearly warn people!

    • Hi, Glenn – I haven’t found this to be true. It should take you to a CE page that says “are you sure you want to click through?” If that’s not your experience, please contact customer service at 877-479-1119. Thank you.


  36. Hello!

    Just curious if CE will monitor individual social media apps as well such as Messenger, Twitter, or Snapchat that are installed on the iPhone? And, if so, how much monitoring is done on these apps? Will it just be any sites that are clicked on while using the apps that will be monitored?

    • Hi, Casey – on iOS devices, we monitor at the domain name level. Meaning, if someone had our app installed on their iPhone, used the Snapchat app, then you would see a “snapchat.com” listed on the detailed browsing log with a rating. Right now, Snapchat is rated mature teen (I think), and so it wouldn’t show up in the iOS section of the report at the bottom, because only Highly Mature content is shown there right now (we might be changing that). Does that help?

      If I can explain it this way – if the iOS device makes a “call” to the internet (basically, to a server), then it gets recorded. For the time, we record the top-level domain that is being “called.”

      I hope that helps! If not, let me know.

  37. I have noticed severe service issues using the VPN. It sometimes slows down or blocks access all together to normal websites. I have tried to load a video in YouTube and it would just sit there spinning, but immediately after I turn off the VPN (which I wish Apple would hide behind “Restrictions”) it will load immediately…if I turn it back on….video stops.

    • Hi, Shane – now that’s an issue that I haven’t been made aware of. Hmmm. Have you tried to replicate this issue on different networks? I’d be curious if the same thing happens. Could you please let me know? (email below)


  38. Hello I am very happy the app was updated for iPhone. Question is it safe to have the YouTube app? Is there anything in restrictions to make the more safe other than changing my settings to restricted in the app? I noticed you can toggle the vpn switch on and off. Does that notify my accountability partner? If not is that something that will be updated? Please advise.

    • Hi, Aaron – I’m glad it’s working well for you. The new app requires YouTube to be watched in “Restricted Mode,” which is great for some people and is causing too much restriction for others. But, that’s the answer to your question. And yes, turning off the VPN does put a note on your Accountability report that Covenant Eyes has been uninstalled.


  39. Hello Chris,
    On my YouTube app I can turn off the restricted mode whenever I want. Is that supposed to be an option? I prefer safari and I know you said it forces restricted mode In the web browser, I was able to turn off restricted mode in my safari browser also …am I missing something? I toggled the vpn off to make sure it would notify my pArtner. It did not. Do I need to reinstall or did the update not work properly?

    Thanks ,Aaron

    • Hi, Aaron – if you’re able to turn off YouTube restricted mode and there was no notification when the VPN turned off, then something doesn’t seem right about the install. Can you please contact customer service to have them help you correct this? I want to make sure your device is properly protected! 877-479-1119


    • Hey! I’m using Covenant Eyes and VPN on iOS9.
      I’m using Safari and other iPhone browsers too because I need them on work.

      I just tested that I can toggle off VPN and then no action is monitored at all and report does not show that VPN has been turned off – it shows nothing in reports!!!

      Is there an option that sistem reports that the VPN has been turned off?

      I understand that it works fine with CE browser app and with VPN turned on but please let me know is there any way to monitor device without VPN or at least see that VPN has been turned off?

    • Hi, Mike – our system is set up to send a notification to the report when the VPN is shut-off. Can you please got the App Store, and make sure that you’re running the latest version of the CE app? We just released a new version on 4/4. Thanks!


  40. Thank you so much for this app! My husband has always been able to get around restrictions and even look at porn through apps by clicking on certain ads. It would bypass all restrictions. I’m glad this notifies even stuff about apps. We downloaded this app about 2 weeks ago & I do have a question. Everything in his detailed browsing history starts with DNS. I can’t look at the things he been going to because of this. So I haven’t been able to see anything at all & some are flagged with red which is what I’m most concerned about bc it won’t let me see or open anything. What does DNS mean? Everything on the internet starts with DNS so I can’t click to see what he’s been doing. Does this mean he’s somehow figured a way around the app? How can I fix this problem? Thank you!

    • Hi, Summer – it sounds like you’ve been put in the difficult situation of policing your husband’s porn addiction. Do you have a good support network around you? He’s got to make his own decisions, but I want to first make sure you have permission to care for yourself and give him some firm boundaries – you’re entitled to that. Here’s a post, written by one of our key authors, Kay Bruner, that gives some great encouragement to a wife in your situation. This is your recovery, too.

      Regarding the new app, I’m glad that it’s working well for you. What’s important when you review the detailed browsing log (DBL) is to look for top-level domains, like “instagram.com” that might be “hidden” in the details, and surrounded by a lot of DNS activity that is difficult to make sense of. But, here’s what has been mostly true with the new app – wherever there’s a lot of red, there’s usually a problem.

      A call into one of our customer service reps (877-479-1119), who can look at the DBL with you might also help add clarity. I wish you nothing but the best. There is hope!

      Be well,

  41. My accountability partner is getting false flags from the VPN from other apps. Seeing some of the initial time stamps on the URLs on the report make me think that one or more of the game apps I play must access places or URLs for their ads that also have inappropriate material as well. I know for a fact I’m not seeing porn, I’m not visiting these websites and I’m not seeing inappropriate ads. But my partner is consistently getting URLs that are *clearly* inappropriate or pornographic. Is there any way to fix this?

    • Hi, Ben, I’ve received a few comments like yours, and each time, I’ve asked the person to give me more details from the Detailed Browsing Log, which you can access in MyAccount – View Reports – Detailed Browsing Log. I’d like to know what kind of activity surrounds these false positives. If you can do that, and call Customer Service at 877-479-1119, that might provide some intel to find a pattern.


  42. Please help! Please provide an option to toggle YouTube Restricted Mode off. I listen/watch some teachers in New Testament textual criticism who use the comments and chat as communication to answer questions in real time but comments are disabled for all videos. I use iOS & have YouTube Red app. I don’t want to have to uninstall the whole thing every time it’s time for a new broadcast.

    Thank you!

    • Hi, Jeremie – we are definitely aware of the desire for the YouTube functionality you’ve mentioned. Even I want it! :) Stay tuned. We’re definitely listening.


  43. Does this new VPN cover apps like chrome? This is the only web app I use, and I want to insure it is covered by the vpn and reported.
    Thanks, and great update!

    • Hi, Tim – the new iOS VPN solution will report links that are clicked on through the Chrome browser app (anything clicked will be rated). We’re always going to recommend using the Covenant Eyes browser for the best protection, but for individuals in a certain stage of recovery, the new solution does provide some monitored freedom.

      Regards, Chris

  44. Hello!

    I’m wondering if videos watched in the YouTube application on iPhones appear in filter guardian’s reports. If I’m the filter guardian for my husband, can he use the YouTube app without those videos going to my report? I know the YouTube application can only be used on restricted mode with the new update. I’ve also noticed that YouTube videos can be accessed through Facebook Messenger. If someone is using Facebook messenger to pull up a potentially sensitive YouTube video, will that appear in the report I receive?

    Also…when hashtags or profiles are searched on Instagram and Twitter, will those appear in my report? I know that sensitive links will appear in my report, but what else? Thanks so much for everything you guys do. I’ve used your services for years and always will!

    • Hi, Alana – I apologize for the delay and I’ll try to answer each of your questions!

      – videos watched in the YouTube application will not show us as individual URLs in the Accountability report. Not in the same way that individual URLs are reported if YouTube.com is used through the Covenant Eyes browser.
      – Facebook Messenger – same answer, but by using Covenant Eyes, you are using YouTube in restricted mode, even in FB Messenger
      – Instagram or Twitter hashtags – no, individual hashtag searches are not going to appear. You will see that Twitter and Instagram were used, but neither app allows for us to see individual searches that might occur within the app.

      You are pointing out limitations that all filtering and monitoring companies experience when working with Apple’s products. The depth that we are now able to achieve through our new iPhone app is much improved, but we obviously still want more (which we’re working on).

      I hope my answers are clear, but if not, please feel free to contact customer service at 877-479-1119.
      Regards, Chris

    • Hi, Jay – CE will alert the report that Instagram has been accessed and that there’s activity within Instagram occurring, but it won’t report individual search results, comments, images being posted, etc.


  45. Hi, thanks for doing this update. I recently started having a problem with it, though. While in my settings, I accidentally toggled the VPN off. When I tried to turn it back on, it wouldn’t turn on and I couldn’t access the internet. After several minutes, it did allow me to access the internet again, and VPN is visible in the top right-hand corner of my iPhone. But every time I open the CE browser, it says that something went wrong and prompts me to enable notifications (they are and always have been enabled). No matter what I do, this message comes up every single time I open the CE browser. Please help; I would rather not have to resort to using Safari again.

    • Hi, Clay – I’m not sure what is happening there either. I would do a complete uninstall (tell your Accountability partner, delete the app, etc.) and just start over. Something is glitching and might just need a reset.


  46. Hi,

    So, I don’t need “parental restrictions” on YouTube. I’m 24, and I use the covenant eyes app for filtering and accountability purposes, not for YouTube. In fact, I have YouTube white listed.

    Most of my favorite you tubers do not post content suitable for children. All of this is now blocked thanks to your brilliant and mandatory YouTube restrictions.

    How do I turn this off? In spite of YouTube bing white listed, restrictions are still being forced through every means imaginable on my mobile device, on YouTube. I have no need of it, and frankly, it’s tremendously irksome. I’d like to keep watching my favorite gamers hilariously blow themselves up in their video game escapades.


    • Hello, Dominic – we are working on a solution to this because we know that it’s not ideal. The device-wide coverage that is now achieved with our new app is what people wanted, and although our initial release came at a slight cost to YouTube, as you mention, it was deemed worthwhile by those from the public who helped us test it. We’re now trying to solve for the YouTube forced Restriction that you mention and hope to have a way to toggle this off and on.


  47. So, is there an option for filtering the types of content that is accessed through an App or website. For example, you can access highly mature content and explicit content on pinterest as well as youtube. So,just reporting that these apps or websites were visited does not give enough accountability information to the types of content that was accessed through these websites that aren’t categorized as mature. I’m thankful for the steps that have been taken for filtering and accountability but it’s the hidden dangers of what is perceived to be as ‘for everyone’ apps or sites.

    • Hi, Missy – right now, nothing sees inside those apps. We’ve given as much insight as possible to alert someone as to an app being accessed, but accountability needs to do the rest. YouTube isn’t as much of an issue now that it’s used in Restricted mode only. If Pinterest is a problem, then keep the App store toggled off. At some point, if the person just can’t handle a smartphone, then they shouldn’t have one.


  48. Just wondering if our son could potentially turn off the VPN button, and therefore not have tracking during that time, or if it would show up in the report that it was turned off during certain times? I see when you go into general on the phone its just an easy slide of the button to activate or deactivate the VPN browsing.

    • Hi, Vivian – if your son does that, then a notification is sent to his Accountability report saying that the VPN was turned off.


  49. Thank you for all your work on the CE app.
    It helps an incredible amount with godliness.

    Can I ask.
    Does the CE VPN register usage of questionable dating apps such as Tinder? Grindr? Etc?

    Thank you.

    • Hi, Carl – I’m glad you like it. The CE VPN will register that any app has been accessed. Both of these apps are rated Highly Mature by CE, and so if they are simply opened, even if nothing else is searched or done in the app, then a note would be sent to the Accountability report saying that “Grindr.com” or “Tinder.com” was accessed when the app tried to communicate with the DNS.


  50. Hi,
    Has there been any fix to the battery drainage yet? There have been many people that have reported this to be true. I’ve only had CE for 1 week on my phone and the increased battery drainage is very obvious. There can be no other explanation other than the direct correlation of downloading CE and every day since then the battery drainage has been a lot quicker.

    • Hi, Clement – we’ve been trying to respond to the battery drain issue, which pops up from time-to-time. The probably is that we haven’t been able to find any pattern in the cases. Can you do me a favor? Can you, go to the “Settings” app then “Battery” do you see “Covenant Eyes” near the top? Switching to “Last 7 Days” gives a better overall view. Also, if you could let me know what other apps you’re using when you notice battery drain, that would be helpful. You can send me information at: chris.mckenna@covenanteyes.com

      Thank you,

    • Hi Chris,
      I’m very surprised you haven’t been able to find a pattern, as it seems many on forums plus people I’ve talked to personally experienced the same battery drainage right after they downloaded the app.

      I checked my settings, and Covenant Eyes is at the very top at 37% over the last 24 hours and still at the top at 29% over the last 7 days. Does that help? Hopefully that’s enough proof of these reports.

      For the past 7 days, the next closes is Messages at 11% and Mail at 10%.


    • Hi, Clement – thank you for this note (and for your follow-up note, I apologize for the delay). I did follow through with our development team with your findings and they would like to continue the conversation with you. Can you please send me an email at chris.mckenna@covenanteyes.com with your phone number and I hope to have someone reach out to you directly. We’re tracking down some leads on battery drain, but it’s been a surprisingly difficult nut to crack. So many variables. But, we’re definitely willing to try!


  51. Hello, Is there a way to lock (password protect) the VPN settings on the iPhone? Apple settings allow for easy enable/disable for the VPN. Also when I disable the VPN, my report does not flag this in the uninstall section. Would you comment on this please? And thank you for your work to make the internet safe!

    • Hello, Todd – we released an update to the app on 4/4. I’m guessing that you probably have app auto-updates turned on, but just double checking. Just to ensure you’re running the most recent version of the app. Turning the VPN off in settings should be sending a notification to your Accountability report.


  52. I’m trying to get to contacts from Facebook on my Nike Run app. Facebook will not sign in because it says it’s logging in weird. When I looked up reasons why it says vpn networks can cause problems. Is there a way to fix this or at least a setting where my wife can turn off vpn for 5 minutes to hook up with friends on the app and then turn it back on?

  53. Hi Chris,
    I sent a reply about a week ago but it looks like it didn’t make it past the moderator to be posted. I assume someone will reach out to me personally, then?

    • Hi, Clement – my apologies for the delay. I replied to your previous comment today and look forward to hearing from you via email!

  54. I have seen where others have been having the same issue and my husband just recently downloaded the app after the 4/4 upgrade but we have found that you can easily temporarily turn off the VPN and browse the web and it does not record or monitor what you are browsing even in the detailed browsing log. It also does not send any type of notification to the accountability partner. Any solution to this?

    • Hi, Samantha, I apologize that your comment got lost, but yes, we’ve had some difficulty recently with the notification when the iOS VPN is turned off and we’re diligently working on a fix.


  55. This is great, but I have one question. Does it also function as a regular VPN that will keep your device safe on an unsecured public network? If not, can install another VPN app on top of this one?

    • Hi, Barry – the short answer is “no,” ours is not a traditional VPN, but we utilize some of the same functions of the VPN on the phone, so the device thinks it’s a VPN. Unfortunately, iOS only allows 1 VPN to operate at once, so you are not able to install another VPN on top of this one.


    • Hi, Lanny – no. Our VPN-like technology is looking for URL’s and comparing them to our rating system. It’s not touching images, yet.

  56. I have noticed pictures being sent and received take forever to up or download, does the VPN have anything to do with this?

    • Hi, Lanny – that’s the very first time I’ve heard that issue, Lanny. That’s not to say the VPN isn’t a contributor, but I’ve not heard that yet. Have you tried the old-fashioned factory reset and have you noticed it over various network connections?


  57. Hello Chris I just read the blog VPN explanation and your above short answer version of Covenant Eyes not being a traditional VPN.

    Due to my work travels and needing to utilize public Wi-Fi are there any future plans of adding the encryption spec and turning covenant eyes into a traditional encrypted VPN? Thanks.

    • Thanks for the question. No, at this time there are no plans to add encryption. We’ve intentionally stayed away from becoming a traditional VPN.

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