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6 Easy Ways Your Child Can Bypass Your Internet Filter

Last Updated: April 3, 2023

Abby Willmarth
Abby Willmarth

Abby Willmarth has worked with several anti-trafficking organizations to educate and mobilize churches and individuals to fight trafficking. Over those years, she began to see just how many ways trafficking connected to porn. Now she works at Covenant Eyes to create educational content that helps people find freedom from porn. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons.

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.

4. VPNs

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
  • Comments on: 6 Easy Ways Your Child Can Bypass Your Internet Filter
    1. Barbara

      I currently use covenant eyes on my computer because my husband is a porn addict.
      I am very discouraged by this information as I do not feel safe even having a computer in the house now. He could byoasscovenwnt eyes and I would not know.
      Our agreement is one relapse and our marriage is over. This decision is after years of heartbreak and struggle.

      • Kay Bruner

        Of course your husband could access porn from any device, and he could engage in any number of other deal-breaking behaviors, too. Stand by your boundaries, and be strong in the knowledge that whatever happesn, you will be okay. Even if the marriage ends, you will survive. You are not a victim of his sin, and you don’t have to live that way. I hope he does his work and stays clean, but if not, you are strong and courageous and you will be okay. Peace, Kay

      • Dizzy Lotus

        That’s so sad to hear. :(

      • Anonymous

        So many other couples have struggled with this in the marriage and relationships. You are not alone! Some do make it through and some do not. Individual 12 step programs for my spouse and I plus our 12 step program for couples are what saved our marriage and continue to save our marriage and God directs it all for us when we ask for and accept that direction. Praying for God’s will be done in your lives.

      • Lori

        Barbara I am so sorry for all the pain you have suffered because of this addiction. My husband has also struggled with this. And I know how difficult it is to overcome the hurt. We have found much hope and healing through Pure Desire Ministries and The Conquer Series and The 7 Pillars of Freedom. It teaches men to overcome this addiction, not just relying on filters. Their success rate is 99% if the husband does the work. Just wanted to share that with you in case you haven’t ever heard of it. Praying that God will do a miracle in your marriage.

      • jon

        Porn is not really the problem…only a symptom of the real heart issue. Without Christ in control of my soul, I am a murderer, and adulterer, and not capable of any kind of love…only selfishness and the self serving choices that follow. Rather than the rigid focus on the porn problem, focus on the relationship with Christ.

    2. Elena Daniel

      Is there any way to install Covenant Eyes on ROKU TVs?

    3. D3D4

      If the VPN is off, can they access porn and adult websites? Recently, the covenant eyes and con won’t stay turned on

      If he downloads vpn apps and uses it, can he search for porn?

      • Moriah Bowman

        Hi friend,

        To ensure that these questions are answered accurately, I would encourage you to call or email our amazing Member Care Team.
        Email: support@covenanteyes.com
        Phone: 1.989.720.8000


    4. Christopher

      I’m wondering if I install other apps will my wife at least be able to find out? Through the notification software that is.

      • Moriah Bowman

        Hi Christoper,

        Just to clarify, are you asking if your wife will be notified in your report when you download other apps onto your device? Is she your ally?


    5. James Lopez

      Can Covenant Eyes block other VPN apps from being downloaded?

      • Keith Rose

        Hi James! I recommend contacting our member care team at support@covenanteyes.com or 1.989.720.8000. Just let them know the kind of computer/device you’re using and they can help with more detailed information.


        Keith Rose

    6. Mary

      why won’t you answer the questions about VPNs????

      • Moriah Bowman

        Hi Mary!

        The reason I have not personally answered the VPN question is because I am not the right person to answer that question. I have recommended that others contact our Member Care Team, who can most definitely answer this question. Or, you can read our Support Articles.


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