Our ability to connect our accountability and filtering services into deeper parts of the iPhone, including apps, and force Google safe searches no matter where Google is accessed has been very helpful to our members. Now, with our latest update for iOS 15.1 and higher, Covenant Eyes has brought Screen Accountability to the Safari browser!
Our members have asked a lot of great questions about the updated Covenant Eyes sensor app. I thought that I’d address a few of the more common questions that have come through both our blog and our world-class Member Care team.
Question: Can you see my texts?
Answer: No, we cannot see your texts. iMessage activity is not available to us.
Question: Is every app monitored?
Answer: Covenant Eyes takes screenshots within the Safari browser (only on iOS 15.1 and higher—screenshots are not taken in Safari with older versions of iOS) and the Covenant Eyes browser app.
Covenant Eyes cannot take screenshots in other apps, but it does report explicit web domains. A domain name means things like “Instagram.com” or “Facebook.com,” but not the specific addresses (instagram.com/user-profile-john-doe or facebook.com/my-group-name/). Covenant Eyes reports these domains but cannot distinguish between actual websites that are clicked on and background data that is accessed by an app.
Question: Does Covenant Eyes block porn in every app?
Answer: Covenant Eyes cannot filter the content that might be shared within an app. We can’t block nasty language on Snapchat or stop inappropriate direct messaging and pictures on Instagram. And we can’t monitor content in apps that isn’t domain based.
The best way to prevent access to inappropriate content in apps is to remove them from the device and then use Screen Time to prevent apps from being installed. Using the website version instead (e.g. facebook.com, instagram.com, youtube.com) in Safari or the Covenant Eyes browser helps to ensure that explicit websites are blocked and explicit content is reported.
However, Covenant Eyes does block and report explicit web domains. We also have a wonderful handle on Google, no matter where Google is accessed on the device. If a person finds a hidden Google search in an app (and they’re everywhere) and thinks they can get away with an unfiltered search, Covenant Eyes forces a Google safe search every single time.
For more details on Covenant Eyes filtering, see here!
Question: What is a VPN? Did Covenant Eyes invent this?
Answer: A traditional virtual private network (VPN) is typically used by employees to securely access corporate files from remote locations (i.e., home or hotel). Now, the term VPN is more often used to describe commercial VPNs that are used by everyday people to connect to the internet more securely, thereby hiding their internet activity from their internet service provider or protecting their activity when connected to public hotspots.
Covenant Eyes utilizes the VPN feature on the iPhone in order to dig deeper into activity on the device. We didn’t invent it. We just found a neat way to use it.
Question: Can I turn off the “forced” YouTube restricted mode? It’s too restrictive.
Answer: Yes, if you use our “Standard Blocking” then YouTube restricted mode is not enforced. If you use “Strong Blocking” then it is enforced.
For help changing the filter settings for Covenant Eyes, check out this support article.
Question: With the updated app, do I need to keep using the Covenant Eyes browser?
Answer: If you are using iOS 15.1 or higher, then Covenant Eyes can now monitor the Safari browser just like the Covenant Eyes browser. However, some members still benefit from using the Covenant Eyes browser app with ScreenTime restrictions configured.
We’re pleased with our new iPhone coverage and constantly working on ways to make it even better.
We value your feedback and will continue to listen to our valuable members as we work together to create solutions that enable all of us to live porn-free. For more information about how Covenant Eyes works on the iPhone, check out this support article.
Another workaround for Youtube Restricted mode might be to submit the blocked videos here: https://support.google.com/youtube/contact/yt_restricted_mode This might allow the blocked videos in Restricted mode. I don’t know how fast their turnaround is though.
The app for iOS has been great. My main request would be that it reported search terms, if this is technically possible. But, the fact that it enforces Safe Search is a great help.
i have continuously read about the accountability on a mobile phone can it b used via a smart phone .i caught my husband about q8 months ago viewing porn and i cannot get over it i was feeling a little better before xmas 2017 and knowing his basic phone was almost useless bought him a smart phone to use sith bis bloothtooth excercise machine i regret this so much and the little trust i had regained has vone he may not b doing anything wrong but i dont know .he never puts the phone down i xo take it from him when we retire at night but things are very serious between us .he makes out that i need to see a sychiatrist and i go on at him because i do not trust him .ive told him to leave and that causes probldms but everythings turned on me becausei cant let it go .i want to but do not want to be made a fool of . Thankyou
I would think that if there’s nothing wrong with his phone, then you should be able to view the history at any time for your own reassurance. That should be a basic trust-building exercise that he should be willing to undertake: all of his internet activity should be an open book to you, no questions asked. You don’t need to see a psychiatrist about that. He should be willing to open the books for you at any time, given his past behavior.
Here, here, and here are some articles about boundaries, and here’s one about trust that might be helpful as you think things through.
My name is Orion and I love this service you have provided, but I would like to make a suggestion. I use Apple devices and they have this wonderful feature where you can save your password for websites and apps to your device and have it auto fill when you visit that website when you use Safari. However, this feature is unavailable on the Covenant Eyes app. Would it be possible for this feature to be added, or is it already available, and if so how do you set it up?
Thank you for everything you are doing,
Hello, Orion – thank you for this suggestion. I’ve sent it to our development team for further consideration.
I got rid of my iPhone because the one thing that I could not restrict was when my phone connected to a guest WiFi hotspot. When I would accept the terms to connect, a window would open up for that location’s homepage (i.e. the Starbucks homepage), and I would then be able to navigate to google or youtube and beyond even though I had restricted everything. Does the new app monitor those hotspot windows?
Hello, yes, it would monitor domains that you access through the hotspots. If you click, it will be rated.
I use Parentkit to turn off apps and no the VPN is preventing me from using it. How do I delete the vpn?
Hello, Greg – are you trying to remove Covenant Eyes so that you can continue using Parentkit? If so, please contact customer service at 877-479-1119 and they can assist you.
So for the VPN on iOS. There is a way to get to the VPN section under “general” and go to the covenant eyes section and disable the “On Demand” command. This allows bypassing of the VPN to allow unrestricted access to the internet. Any way it can be set so the accountability partner can get some type of alert when the VPN is shut down? Or is the best way to just restrict all internet access to the Covenent Eyes app? Because then this would still let things like Twitter and Facebook to get through. thanks!
Hi, Steven – can you please make sure you have the latest version of the iOS app? We released a new one on 4/4. When the VPN is shut-off, it should be sending a notification to the Accountability Report.
If the Covenant eyes vpn isn’t on but the browser app is on my phone does that mean it is still monitoring the whole phone, (for all my apps?) If a different browser that isn’t google or bing is added, it will still be monitoring any usage with M rating right? I can’t use the VPN because it slows my phones connectivity very badly on wifi or not
Hi, Tim – the VPN is what does the monitoring. If you’ve disabled the VPN and still have the browser, then you’re not protected. If you had the VPN and clicked on a link in another browser, then the VPN would rate it, but without it, no.
My Iphone just updated to ios 11.3 and it’s been having a lot of trouble connecting to the internet because of covenant eyes. I know the problem is covenant eyes because when i turn off the vpn it takes a few seconds to force it back on and in those few seconds I’ve been able to reconnect. Are you guys aware of this issue and is there a fix?
Hi, Joe – I’m not aware of this issue, but our most recent update, released on 4/4, may help with this issue. Please update the CE app and let me know if the problem persists.
I am having this issue now. It is blocking all internet connections. Please help!!!!
I am sorry that you are having connection issues! Our customer service team is incredible and would love to help you figure out what is going on. I’d encourage you to give them a call!
877.479.1119 within US
989.720.8000 outside US
The VPN slows and stops connectivity on my apps and browser, even safe stuff. Is there any way to combat this? for example, twitter slows to a crawl, and no images will load at all.
Hi, Leon – that’s one that I haven’t heard of lately. Have you tried resetting the device? If that doesn’t work, would you mind contacting customer service? 877-479-1119.
Thanks – Chris
I generally haven’t used Covenant Eyes or other apps on my iPhone because of the lack of accountability. I was super excited when this VPN feature was released a few months ago but very quickly (within about 15 minutes) discovered how to turn it off in the iPhone Settings. A notification popped up warning me that I no longer had device wide accountability, and I surfed the net freely without anything report ever being sent to my accountability partner.
If Covenant Eyes knows when the VPN is being turned off and can give me a notification, surely it can put that as a red flag in the accountability report, can’t it? Just like how generating an uninstall code would automatically alert my accountability partner. Having this capability would close what I see as a big cap in Covenant Eye’s iPhone monitoring capability.
Hi, Josh – the scenario you described should have sent a notification to your Accountability Report. Can you please call customer service to ensure you’re set up correctly? 877-479-1119
A friend of mine has CE on his iPhone, when he turns off the VPN after a few seconds it automatically comes back on. On mine it does not. How do I force my phone to use the VPN?
Hi, Ryan – after you add the CE VPN configuration, then click on VPN in Settings on your phone. You’ll see a little blue checkmark next to “Covenant Eyes” and a lower-case i for “information.” Click that lower-case i and make sure “Connect on Demand” is toggled on. If you’re still having trouble after trying that, please contact customer service at 877-479-1119. Thank you for being a CE member!
Should I expect that ALL of the web traffic that comes from iOS apps other than the CE browser will appear in the Detailed Browsing Log? Is there a difference in the way iOS CE browser traffic is reported and traffic that’s generated from other iOS apps…like News for instance?
Hi, Dan – yes, there is a difference. For traffic through the CE browser, you will see the exact address in the DBL. For traffic through an app other than the CE browser, you’ll see a combination of URLs that you understand, like “www.instagram.com,” and a bunch of addresses that don’t make sense, which is some of the encrypted chatter between the app and domain servers.
YouTube Restricted Mode is ridiculous. It’s WAY too tight. Makes me want to scrap CovenantEyes.
Hi, Thomas – we’re definitely aware of this frustration with some of our users and are working on it to try and disconnect the VPN solution from the YouTube forced Restricted Mode. Please hang on! Thank you.
I am also finding YouTube restricted mode unbelievably restrictive. We’re also almost two months on with no solution. Please fix this!
Hi, I can tell you that we are actively working on this. We do know that it’s causing frustration with some of our users. Just checking – did you know that it’s triggered by being a filter user? So, it’s a trade-off until we find a solution. You could turn off the filter in order to have more YouTube access, but maybe that wouldn’t be safe for you. We are working on a better solution.
We are relocating out of the US for a tIme, and see the need for VPN service for security. Does the CE VPN provide security? Is it possible to use another VPN service at the same time as CE?
Hi, Corey – that CE VPN doesn’t not provide the security you’re looking for in a traditional VPN and ours cannot run at the same time as another. The world is definitely moving toward more privacy, so I completely understand your desire for a traditional VPN overseas. I’m sorry that we don’t have a solution at the moment.
I don’t seem to have the same problems as other with Youtube. Actually, I have the opposite. i’m wondering how I can actually keep the Youtube restricted setting on. All I need to do is shut off the wifi on my iphone 7+ and the option to remove the “restricted” setting on youtube is readily accessible.
and by Youtube, I mean the Youtube App.
Hi, Julio – it shouldn’t matter what you toggle off and on in the YouTube app. The CE VPN should still force the Restricted Mode regardless. If this is not proving true, can you please call customer service at 877-479-1119? Thank you.
Was wondering if the VPN still tracks domains accessed in the private browsing mode in Safari? I feel fine leaving Safari enabled with the VPN update, but I wanted to verify if private browsing could still be a backdoor to unmonitored browsing. Thanks.
Hi, Bradyn – yes, we still monitor what’s clicked on in Safari even in incognito mode.
Hi Chris. I live in Cape Town, South Africa. I have been using the App now for a month on my samsung galaxy A5 and have been very pleased uptill now. When I check which apps are open or running in the background, it always shows ‘covenant eyes monitoring’.
So this morning at 5am when my alarm on my phone went off, I could not put it off because all of the sudden there is a covenant eyes screen where I had to activate/allow VPN access !!!???
Why is this now necessary all of the sudden ? I was happy with the app as it was. It did not even give me the option to not allow VPN access.
Does the VPN access now allow you to gain access to my phone, folders and any files on my phone ? So could you access bank statements on my phone for example ? Or private recordings ?
Nevertheless I feel uncomfortable with VPN accesa, is there anyway of disabling it and still allow the app to monitor only ??
Hello, I’m sorry. We’ve been in a beta mode for a few weeks and we’ve just recently released (last week) a brand new version of the app that might resolve your issues. Unfortunately, the VPN must be running for the app to work. It’s not a traditional VPN – we aren’t logging anything other than the top-level domain, so there’s no worries about credit card or bank information hitting our servers. We just utilize a few of the phone’s VPN features, which causes the phone to think it’s a traditional VPN. We had to transition to something other an accessibility, since we were using accessibility for something other than its true intent.
It seems to me that since the update with a VPN, CE causes serious battery drain when I’m using Safari. I seem to be losing 1-2% battery a minute (or more) when just reading the news. I’m on an iPhone 6, iOS 11.4. Is this normal? Will it improve with a future update?
Hi, yes, the mobile development team is working on the battery drain. iOS’s new battery use features are giving us greater insight and I hope they’re able to come up with a solution.
Restricted mode being enforced is a huge annoyance to me, is there any setting I can change or option to specifically turn off the VPN for YouTube only?
Hi, James – no, not currently. We’re working on a solution here and I hope to have an update soon.
Hi Chris, I have an iPhone 6s Plus with CE installed. Whenever I toggle off the “Connect on Demand” option in the VPN settings, it doesn’t turn itself back on. Is there a way to correct this?
Also, it doesn’t send notifications to the accountability report when the VPN is turned off.
Hi, Tim – there should be a notification sent to the Accountability Report when the VPN is turned off. I believe you’re right about the “Connect on Demand,” but if a notification is sent to the report, then the Partner is notified, which (albeit) somewhat mitigates the need to force the connect on demand.
Hello, we’ve been using Covenant eyes software for a few years now and up until now, like MANY other user’s been happy with the “piece of mind” it provides. Recently, just like a previous user stated, my husbands alarm went off at 5am, and there was literally no way to turn it off!!! Activate VPN showed on the screen, but even trying to activate or disable did nothing to stop the alarm from going off! It woke up our entire family! At 5am! I had to restart the phone in order to turn the alarm off! Not impressed at all. Since that update, my husbands phone is nothing short of frustrating! Everything from webpages not loading to now losing the ability to even watch harmless YouTube videos!!! I feel Covenant eyes has over-stepped their boundaries by literally micromanaging thru this VPN infrastructure. This has been going on for far too long as these complaints go as far back as May 2018!! That’s almost 3 months ongoing Covenant eyes!!! If a fix isn’t provided in the VERY near future we will have no other choice but to find another provider. Please don’t get me wrong, Covenant eyes was a huge part of my husband’s healing journey over 3 yrs ago but, with that said, I do not want to ‘punish’ my husband or limit all his hard work by micromanaging his every little step which this new update is exactly doing! That’s not fair and I feel you as a company have far overstepped your boundaries by way of the aforementioned. PLEASE FIX NOW!!!
Hi, Lisa – I’m sorry that you’ve had trouble. For an iPhone, I’ve not heard of anything like this on that platform. If I can encourage you to stick with us at least through talking to Customer Service, I would appreciate it. 877-479-1119.
The YouTube restrictivity is unbearable. Please please figure out a way to disable this!
I use covenant eyes to help me with my own self control issues and I find it incredibly helpful, YouTube because of the Restriction with the new app on my Android device that I cannot turn off, is not letting me watch news programs that I follow daily, it’s not letting me watch gamer live streams that I watch Daily it’s not letting me watch other commentators that I watch Daily it restricts access to comments on almost every video! This is not what I signed up for it’s super frustrating and I am finding myself unable to deal with it to the point of fighting with myself to turn off the app and unsubscribe all together even though I know how bad that would be for me. Please please please find a way to get rid of this
Hi, yes, we are definitely working on a fix to the YouTube restricted mode issue.
YouTube used through covenant eyes app was not set to restricted is that normal I thought it was always forced to restricted? Thanks
Hi, Jen – if you are a filter user, then YouTube Restricted Mode can be toggled on or off by the Filter Guardian in My Account.
Can you share how/if the new update monitors Twitter? Will it recognize anything inappropriate/mature in the newsfeed and flag it? Basically, is there a way I can have access to Twitter but my accountability partners see if I viewed anything inappropriate/mature?
If you turn on the cell phone’s hotspot feature, and connect a laptop or any device using the cellular hotspot, with that traffic be monitored as well?
Thanks for the great app. I’m grateful for this accountability software. However, with the VPN usage, my battery levels are draining drastically faster – even on standby. Is there a way of deactivating the VPN feature, particularly when my apps are seriously restricted via the Apple Restriction code? If not, it seems I may reluctantly have to stop using Covenant Eyes on my iPhone. I’d appreciate any input.
PS: I’m using an Apple iPhone 5S
As of today (3/1/19), can Instagram app activity now be monitored? This article is now a year old, and it mentioned that capability was coming eventually.
Does covenant eyes monitor or seven shot if Wi-Fi is disconnected and no internet
Does this monitor netflix
Thanks for the question. Right now, we can’t see anything in Netflix on mobile, but Screen Accountability works just fine with Netflix on Windows and Mac.
If Covenant eyes is installed on an iPhone and someone connects to the hotspot on that iPhone, does Covenant eyes monitor the activity of the individual that is connect through the hotspot?
Covenant Eyes can only monitor the devices that the software has been installed on. If the device that is connecting to the hotspot does not have CE installed, then we will not monitor it.
My daughter is getting on Facebook and other sites through the gmail app. Even through Safari is block, it still lets her access Safari and Facebook, ect. All it shows is the she is spending a lot of time on gmail. Is there a way to fix this?
We encourage you to call in to our Customer Service team. They can walk you through the app settings to insure you have her phone set up the way you would like it to be. Our Customer Service Team is available Monday through Friday from 8 am EST to 11:45 EST and on Saturdays from 10 am to 5:45 pm EST. They can be reached at 877.479-1119.
When the vpn is enabled, does it operate like a normal vpn and hide the url from the ISP or the network owner. Like if you were using a public WiFi would your traffic such as logging into your bank be hidden or can they still see the url you visited
No, the VPN doesn’t not force you to go through our servers to get online and our service does not add a layer of encryption to your internet activity (i.e. hide the URL, etc). If you have further questions about how the VPN works, I would encourage you to read our support article that covers this topic.
Hello, I just installed CE. The VPN is blocking the cable app on my iPad and iPhone we use for tv. I tried to turn it off to no avail. Any suggestions.
I am sorry that you are experiencing this issue! Because many cable apps are location-based, it is common for VPNs to block these apps. If you would still like to use your cable apps, I would recommend you call our Customer Service team and share your question with them!
877.479.1119 within US
989.720.8000 outside US
Is there a way to turn off data access through CE? I can limit WiFi access with my home router but my son still has data access. I’d like to be able to turn off data and then control WiFi access through the router. Thanks.
Unfortunately, there is no way to do this through CE. I would suggest using the phone’s parental controls to limit data access. If this doesn’t work, I would recommend that you do not allow your son to have a phone that can connect to the Internet.
Is there going be an update where you guys can block apps (that we allow)? For Apple devices.
No updates for you, at this point in time. But, when we do have an update, we will be letting everyone know!
When I am tempted, I keep turning off the VPN and therefore am not held accountable for what I look at. Is there any way to prevent my ability to turn off the VPN? Or maybe an update to covenant eyes that informs my accountability partner(s) when I do? This would be a huge blessing for me. Thanks in advance!
Great question. I would recommend calling our amazing Customer Service team:
Toll-free in the US: 877.479.1119
Outside the U.S.: 989.720.8000
They should be able to answer your question!
I would like a phone with ZERO browser on it. I totally trust the covenant eyes app. It’s great. I just want to move towards a tech minimalism lifestyle.
My question: will the VPN and the screen accountability still work if I deleted the browser app?
Thank you for the feedback.
If you are referring to the Covenant Eyes browser app, then no, Screen Accountability will not work. If you have further questions about this, please reach out to our amazing Member Care Team:
Toll-free in the US: 877.479.1119
Outside the U.S.: 989.720.8000
So my boyfriend has this on his computer and his phone. His phone will show maybe 2 screenshots and his YouTube on his pc will take up everything else. How do I getbit so its more Mobile oriented?
Great question. Although I don’t have a simple and easy answer for you (yet), one potential idea is to create two separate user names (one per device), if that is an option for your account. If you are not sure how to do this, please reach out to our amazing Member Care Team!