Everyone’s heard of Internet filtering. For children using the Internet, filtering may be one of the best tools we have to protect their young minds from stumbling on questionable, objectionable, and pornographic content online.
But even the best filters only address part of a widespread problem. Many children can easily learn how to get around a filter: they can learn to bypass it, disable it, or when this proves difficult, they can simply go next door or to the public library. The real issue children face is their natural curiosity to see objectionable content in the first place. We don’t fault children for their curiosity. We take note of the curiosity, and then we prioritize the responsibility of teaching safe Internet use to our children.
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Will the real role models please stand up?
An integral key to Internet safety is modeling for children that which we want to see them do. We live in a day where good role models are scarce. We rely so much on filtering to keep little eyes from seeing violent and sexual stimulation, that we sometimes forget that parents and educators first need to model for children the behavior and attitudes we want them to grasp. This is where a new software solution is needed: accountability software.
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Accountability software is something specifically designed for adults who use the Internet. Accountability software isn’t like a filter. It doesn’t block any Web page from being viewed, and it doesn’t slow down your Internet connection like some filters. Instead, accountability software will monitor where you go online. It catalogs your Internet browsing history and then sends that information to individuals you have chosen to see it. This is why it is called “accountability” software: you are providing an account of everywhere your eyes are going online for another individual.
What Does this Solve?
(1) First, those who choose to use accountability software recognize that the Internet is filled with content that is not only hurtful to children, but can be damaging and addictive for adults to see. Accountability software users also understand that curiosity is not only a childlike trait: it can be tempting for even adults to view pornographic content online.
(2) Second, those who use accountability software are tapping into the power of allowing someone else to hold you “accountable.” This isn’t a technological approach to clean Internet use; it is a relational approach. When you are accountable for what you see online to another person, this avoids the “secret life” that can develop around private Internet use.
Plus, if an adult has developed a compulsion to view pornography online, being accountable to another person who cares is a great first step to break that compulsion.
(3) Third, when an adult relies on Internet “accountability” only without blocking or filtering, he or she can develop and maintain self-control with online viewing habits.
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Back to the children
As children watch this sort of responsible Internet use, this will accomplish far more than a filter can do. It demonstrates to children the benefits of accountability for what they do. When children see adults taking responsibility for what they see online, this will shape the desire to do the same. When children see adults taking measures to avoid pornographic content online, they won’t see porn as an “adult” thing that is forbidden until they turn 18. Instead, they will understand that pornography is damaging across the board, regardless of age.
Now, filtering is still a wonderful tool for children. Most filters allow parents and guardians to adjust the levels of a child’s Internet access based on age and maturity. This is a very responsible thing for online families to do. But as children get older, as they watch their parents develop good accountability relationships with others around them, this will model for them what we desire from them as they mature. It can encourage them to engage in open and honest communication with those they trust about what they see online.
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Accountability + Filtering
Covenant Eyes has developed a dynamic rating system for Internet content and an accountability software tool that tens of thousands of adults have begun using. In addition, Covenant Eyes has a filter based on the same rating system. When used together, families can effectively monitor all Internet use, and filter the Internet where necessary.
If you have any comments about this post, please reply below. If you would like more information about the Covenant Eyes accountability software or filtering software, go to www.CovenantEyes.com.
Luke–This is an intriguing prospect! I do like the idea of it and I think that if you want to have a market for schools and parents then you should create a mirror site for your product that does not mention pornography addicts, etc. Parents and schools will be reticent to align with a product that has that association–even if the product is designed to fight it. I hope you understand that I am not denigrating the site or the product. It’s a great idea…but image counts in this Internet era :)
As much as all of us at cantufind.com would love to see a good filtering system in place its been tried so many times before including by our company but its fundamentally flawed from the start because of the sheer dynamics of the web.
Websites change, urls that were once guilty and blocked could be turned into very good resources, semantic manipulation used to maximum effect to make it difficult to monitor and so on.
In saying that, the entire team at Cantufind.com wish you well and have even added you to our blogroll. Good luck.
I don’t get it. Your arguments are untenable. There is no advantage to children for the parents to use an accountability product instead of internet filtering. Absurd! Chilren should see their parents showing internet responsibility by placing the computer in an open area, not closing pages every time their child approaches the screen, and Yes, by having strong filtering system in place. The filtering is to protect them from both accidental and intentional exposures to very harmful materials, that could ruin their lives for years. Yes, they can seek it somewhere else sometimes, but they wouldn’t have the liberty there that they would at home, so having filtering on the home computer is vital! An parent who doesn’t employ internet filtering, in my opinion, hates their child. Just put a loaded gun on the kitchen table while you’re at it and subscribe to every porn channel on your cable TV without blocking it either while you’re at it. Just let them be accountable not to look at it, yeah!
Agreed on the concept that the accountablity programs are better suited for adults trying to avoid porn access. But, the same thing is even more true here for adults with porn habit, than it is for curious children. Just as surely as there will be attempts, some successful, to bypass filtering by children, there will be the same efforts by adults on “accountability” services to bypass the system, or use another computer, or TV etc, etc. So, no accountabiltiy programs are not the answer either.
Use a filtering program for unmarried children in your home and have a prayer buddy, preferably your spouse, to discuss your sexual hangups with. If you don’t have that kind of openness with your spouse, you’ll always have pain and strife in this area. TALK it out, and pray it out now, don’t hide behind accoutability programs that really aren’t doing the trick either.
I agree more with your other blog about the legalism of all these ascetic attempts to harness the flesh, rather than emphasizing the spiritual, the freeing power of the grace of Jesus. That’s where the answer is, that’s what the human heart craves, freedom to do the right thing, not cages to keep them from the wrong, or nanny state accountability programs. Just my view. jl
oops, i see that you did commend filtering for children in the home.. my bad
i put an apology in, i don’t see it so I’ll apologize again. I just read a little more detail of your article, and see that you do recommend filtering in home for children. Don’t now how i missed that. I see your point, that if that’s all they see, that at age 18 you can look at what you want , they might get the wrong idea, but not from their parents, I hope! I think the accountabilty system might cause them to think that their parents are wannabe perverts who need someone else to guard them. Not sure about this. I stand by my posted statement. Have the filter for the kids, when they hit 18 they can make their own choices, which they’re going to do anyway. Hopefully, they have been taught to respect themselves and others enough by then to stay away from harmful material.
Luke ~ Thank you first of all for visiting my blog and letting me know of this accountability software. I think this is a great tool but I would feel more comfortable using BOTH tools…accountability as well as filtering.
Thanks for visiting my blog, http://www.parentaltech.com. I think this software is a good idea for adults who have an accountability partner in place, or who would like to receive support with an accountability partner system.
There is something about choosing to not go to a site, instead of being blocked from going to it, that I think is important for those who struggle with visiting inappropriate places. I don’t think this strictly applies to pornography. If I knew my husband would see every site I went to, I might use my internet time more wisely. “Ebay…eBay….eBay…Craigslist….eBay…..”
Hello Luke: I thank you for the visit and for the invitation to learn about this software you outline here. I had never heard of ‘accountability software’ before this, but it is intriguing. I firmly believe in teaching by example…children seeing their parents being accountable is a valid approach here.
We keep all of our internet connected computers in common areas of our home so that encourages accountability in and of itself…but I think this is an interesting idea.
Thanks for commenting on my blog and letting my readers know about accountability software. :)
Interesting post and some good information. Everyone has a right to their opinion as I can see from some of your readers’ comments. While it may not solve the problem, internet filters are helpful to some of us parents & in our homes. I wanted to share one our family has had recent success with. Pandora’s Hope is a solution to easily protect homes from those things online that you or your children don’t want to be exposed to or tempted by. The Pandora’s Hope router connects directly into your modem, making it easy to use and compatible with any cable or DSL Internet connection. This Internet filtering router gives you better control on what is seen on any device using your Internet connection (wireless or via cable). Definitely worth checking out – works great!