Your internet filter won’t protect your kids from porn.
If you’ve set up a filter, you obviously care about keeping the bad stuff from getting to your kids, or keeping your kids from getting to the bad stuff. But our good intentions still leave a gaping hole for junk to come pouring through without us even knowing it.
6 Easy Ways Your Child Can Bypass Your Internet Filter
If your kids (or their friends) don’t already know about the following ways to get past a filter, they are just a Google search away.
1. Someone Else’s Device
Want to know the easiest way to get around an internet filter? Use a device that doesn’t have a filter or has laxer filter settings.
- Do they ride a school bus?
- Do their friends have mobile devices?
- What about their friends’ older siblings or parents?
- Do your personal devices have the same settings as your child’s device?
Anytime your child uses a device that doesn’t have a filter (and often even when the devices do), they’re at risk for running into harmful content. They may stumble upon the content accidentally or intentionally seek it out. No matter how well you protect your devices, at some point your child will have access to a device that doesn’t have filters or protection in place.
2. Apps and Hidden Browsers
It’s important to pay attention to trending apps and hashtags, and limit the apps our kids are exposed to. This takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of (which is why sites like Protect Young Eyes that do all of this research for you are essential bookmarks for parents with device-using kids).
Porn and sexualized images are easily accessible through apps like Snapchat and Instagram, but did you know that you can access porn even through some of the “safe” apps, like the Weather Channel and Bible app?
Many apps have in-app browsers that allow access to unfiltered internet search results. We may have done the work of blocking the obvious bad apps, but even the safe apps can be a challenge for filters.
3. Public Wi-Fi
You may have a filtered router, but unfiltered wi-fi is everywhere–coffee shops, restaurants, and the public library. You get the idea.
A virtual private network (VPN) creates encrypted peer-to-peer connections. It protects all the information shared over the VPN, which circumvents most any filtering on the device. VPN’s are available for laptops or downloadable as apps for iPhone or Android devices.
5. Free Proxy Websites
A proxy website is basically a middle-man site that processes internet requests for you. Kids can access proxy websites through the browser and use a separate proxy to direct the data around the web filter, providing easy access to content we don’t want them seeing.
6. A Different Browser
If you set up your browsers with restrictions on adult content, your kids may still be able to download a new browser without those filter settings.
Why a Filter Alone Is Not a Good Safe-Internet Solution
Internet filters and porn blockers play a part in protecting our kids from porn, mainly limiting or delaying their exposure to it. Unfortunately, they’re not enough to raise porn-free kids.
Filters will always have a way around them.
The circumvention methods above aren’t the only ones. Anyone actively seeking a way to bypass a filter can easily find it. Even kids who aren’t intentionally bypassing filters can stumble upon ways around them.
Filter users are more likely to seek out porn.
Stats from the Barna study The Porn Phenomenon show that filters don’t work for those who want to live porn-free lives. The study found that 54% of the general population say they “never” seek out porn, while 0% of filter users say they “never” seek out porn. This stat is alarming if we’re only using a filter to raise porn-free kids.
Some kids and adults discover that filters actually challenge them to find a way to seek out porn. It becomes a fence they try to jump over or an off-limits, hot stove they can’t resist touching.
Filters don’t teach our kids how to use the internet or their devices.
At some point, our kids will leave the protection of our home and live in a world without filters. We want to equip our kids for this moment. We want them to have had practice saying no to things that want to destroy them or distract them from their purpose. We want them to know how to make wise media choices. Filters and controls foster a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality if used alone, which doesn’t encourage us to be actively involved with how our kids use their devices.
Filters don’t notify us when someone is struggling and seeks out porn.
This is probably the worst thing about them. Filters leave us blind to our children’s struggles. If they find a loophole in the filter, the filter might actually make them feel safer seeking out porn.
The thinking goes: “My parents think I can’t access porn because they installed a filter. It’s not even on their radar anymore. This means I can watch all the porn I want using this loophole and they’ll never know.”
This is the exact opposite outcome of what we hoped to accomplish, and we have no idea that it’s happening!
The Best Internet Safety Solution for Your Kids
Should we keep our kids off devices until they are 18? Never allow them to use any form of social media or text their friends? Move to one of the few remote villages left with no internet? Surely these aren’t the only solutions for raising porn-free kids.
The best solution pairs age-appropriate filters + monitoring + healthy accountability conversations, and Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability™ combines all three of these.
It’s an amazing tool for preparing our kids to use technology in a world without filters. It’s also perfect for parents who want to model this accountability and responsibility to their family.
Screen Accountability periodically captures screenshots on their devices. It sees exactly what our kids see. Using artificial intelligence, it analyzes those screenshots for any explicit material. It then shrinks those images and blurs them.
We then send you an image report with a selection of those blurred screenshots, including any explicit screenshots your child may have seen. (Don’t worry, the images in the report are blurred enough to not be tempting or reveal private information, but still let you know what the image was). This image report allows you to have healthy conversations with your child about how they use devices and any areas they might be struggling.
It also comes with an optional porn blocker to prevent them from getting to known porn domains.
Covenant Eyes gives our kids some responsibility and allows them the freedom to make some mistakes while they’re still in the safety of our home and we still have the opportunity to guide them.
There will always be a way around the filter, even if they don’t find it until they leave the house. Prepare them for that world without filters, and make healthy accountability conversations powered by Covenant Eyes a priority.Sign Up for Covenant Eyes today