5 minute read

Why Internet Accountability is Like Insurance

Last Updated: August 9, 2021

Lisa Eldred
Lisa Eldred

Lisa Eldred is the Educational Content Strategist at Covenant Eyes, and has 10 years of experience in researching and writing about porn addiction and recovery. She has authored numerous blog posts and ebooks, including More Than Single, Hobbies and Habits, and New Fruit, which was co-authored with Crystal Renaud Day. Her writing about faith and fandoms can be found at Love Thy Nerd.

Smashed Car on Tow TruckAccidents happen even at the best of times.

I was already backing out of a parking spot in my new car when the car parked behind me went into reverse. And then came the sickening crunch of a collision…and my car suddenly had a lovely new crack in the back bumper.

The other driver and I looked at the crack and then at each other. I shrugged. “Time to call insurance,” I said.

See, there’s a reason you buy insurance. You buy car insurance to cover the costs when someone bumps into you in the parking lot. You buy health insurance to take preventative measures and to cover the bills when you or your family member gets sick. You buy renter’s or homeowner’s insurance so that, if a fire breaks out and you lose your possessions, you don’t have to wonder how you will afford new stuff. You buy life insurance to take care of your loved ones when you die.

In short, you buy insurance to mitigate your own losses and to transfer the risk. Or, in plainer language, you buy insurance because, even if you’re not having a problem now, chances are good you’ll have one in the future, and you want to be ready for it. Sure, it costs money early on, but when disaster inevitably strikes, insurance helps reduce the cost, financial or otherwise.

Transferring the Temptation

In a sense, Internet Accountability software functions similarly. You could almost call it Online Marriage and Family Insurance. Only instead of transferring financial risks to a company, Internet Accountability transfers the temptation of secret porn use. It turns the temptation from a secret burden to a shared one.

But that’s not the only similarity between Internet Accountability and insurance. Here are three other ways they play a similar role.

1. Internet Accountability helps you catch problems early.

It’s entirely too easy to stumble across harmful content or have harmful interactions online. Porn, cyberbullying, violent or racist language, whatever—it’s all out there, just a few clicks away from you and your family.

Pornography is the obvious example. Among teens, nine out of ten boys and six out of ten girls are exposed to porn before age 18.  A 2010 survey found that 66% of teens have their first unwanted exposure to porn between ages 10 – 17. Suffice it to say, if you have kids, it’s a safe bet that they will see porn at some point before they head off to college.

This early exposure will often spiral into very bad online habits. Research on brain function and addiction tells us that porn use often leads to a greater desire for more porn. Anecdotally, many of our members have told us that they started viewing porn as teenagers, and didn’t find freedom until it became a crisis in their marriage.

However, much like the routine, preventative checkups covered by health insurance, Internet Accountability helps catch online problems early. Parents who have found their kids stumbling upon (or searching for) pornography have been able to turn the event into a discussion about healthy sexuality.

It’s not just about pornography either. Parents have discovered evidence of cyberbullying through Accountability Reports. One parent even told us that her child had accidentally become involved in an online horse betting ring because the child thought it was a pony caretaking game. Fortunately, because it showed up on the child’s Report, they were able to catch and stop the problem after only a week.

2. Internet Accountability reduces the (potential) cost.

If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know that repairs can get very expensive very quickly. Even a simple 2 MPH bump in a parking lot can result in several hundred dollars in repairs. But then, that’s the entire reason you buy car insurance: you pay a small amount each month so that if (and when) something major happens, you’re not left with a bill in the thousands of dollars.

This is not a perfect analogy to Internet Accountability, of course. After all, no Internet safety company will cover the cost of, say, counseling if one of their users accidentally stumbles on porn. However, the upfront cost of a subscription does potentially save thousands of dollars.

Take a family of four people, with two Accountability and two Accountability and Filtering usernames. With a Family Account, their monthly cost is $13.99, working out to a total of $1,678.80 over ten years. By contrast:

  • A weekly counseling session with Joe Dallas for porn addiction for one year would cost $5,200.
  • The average cost of a divorce is $15,000. (By the way, 56% of divorce cases cite obsessive use of porn as a contributing factor.)

Those are two “normal,” if tragic, examples. It gets more extreme, though. For example, the cost of bail in California for possession of child pornography is $20,000. The base cost of bail for rape is $100,000. And remember, porn use requires more (and more deviant) porn to get the neurochemical fix, and leads to a greater acceptance of rape myths.

Internet Accountability isn’t a cure-all, of course, and we won’t pay your bail if your Reports show you’ve been accessing child pornography. But weekly Reports and Accountability conversations may prevent these risks in the first place.

Recently, we were contacted by a former child porn user who was released from jail, having lost his job and his marriage. “If I had known about Covenant Eyes beforehand, I never would have wound up in jail,” he said.

3. Internet Accountability Reduces the Risk of Relapse

Let’s say you’re a cancer survivor. You’ve gone through a year of treatment and your doctor has told you your cancer is gone. Does that mean you can just drop your insurance plan? Of course not. Even if the cancer doesn’t come back, you’ll want continued checkups to look for recurrence, or to see if anything else is wrong.

And yet, at Covenant Eyes we often hear similar things. Former porn users will tell us that they’ve stopped looking at porn, so they no longer need Accountability on the Internet. If that is indeed true, great! More power to them. However, this may simply be reopening the door to temptation…and it may be harder to close it the second time.

Think about the parable of the unclean spirit in Matthew 12:43-45:

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Dropping Internet Accountability because you’ve been porn-free for a while (or because you’re getting married) is akin to cleaning the house but leaving it empty. Your “personal demons” may retreat for a while, but they’re going to come back with an army. Conversely, though, if you keep resisting the devil, he will keep fleeing from you.

And, for the record, it works. One university study found that former porn users were 66% less likely to relapse when they used Covenant Eyes.

Give us your thoughts? Are there other ways Internet Accountability acts as insurance? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Photo credit: icanchangethisright on flickr
  • Comments on: Why Internet Accountability is Like Insurance
    1. Rob

      Great wisdom and truth in this article! Thanks Covenant Eyes for all you are doing – it’s making a difference!

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