Keeping Porn Out of Your Home

Sin is Crouching at Your Door

Satan is getting pornography to boys and girls earlier than ever.  The average age for exposure to internet porn is 11 years old.  Kids under the age of 10 account for 22% of porn consumption under the age of 18 years of age.  10% of 12-13-year-olds are concerned that they are already addicted to pornography.  They are not just seeing porn, they are already concerned they are addicted in 7th grade.  I heard a story of an 8-year-old who was sneaking into neighbors homes to look at porn on their devices he was so hooked.  These are horrifying stories and statistics and the little ones one of our churches are not immune.

Most children are one click or one mis-typed search query away from terribly disturbing content.  Studies have shown that exposure to pornography at a young age is highly detrimental.   Kids themselves are saying that it warps their views of the relationships and desensitizes them towards the ugly things of life.  With the internet everywhere, it can seem impossible to fight the onslaught of disturbing content.

It is not. You can take back control of your home.  You can protect your kids and grandkids from pornography with a bit of effort and some great technology.

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While it is not possible to control every bit of content available on the internet everywhere you go, there are simple steps you can take to cut off the incessant flood of porn.

Do you want to protect your kids?  Here are 7 straightforward and effective steps you can take to protect your home from the internet.  These are the things we use in our house and have found to be effective.

1)  Be Willing to Say No

Parents, guardians, and grandparents – the first and most important line of defense is you and your relationship with your little one.  You are in charge and it is your job to decide what is best for them  It is not what is fashionable, easy or what everyone else is doing.  It is what God wants for that child that matters.  It is really tempting to go along with the crowd.  I know just everyone has the latest tech product – phones, iPods, and kindles and the kids just have to play certain games on the newest platforms.

Be willing to say no anyway.  Protect your child.

Every decision we make to allow technology into a home brings a risk and a reward.  Things like Xbox may seem harmless and can be fun but as they are internet enabled, can be a doorway into a world of terrible.  Saying no, particularly when the kids are young completely removes the pitfalls that come pre-loaded in these devices.

2)  Control the Internet Flow

Though it seems like space-aged technology, parents can control access to the internet relatively simply in a home.  It can be as easy as touching your phone.

One way is to access your router’s settings.  Your home’s router can be set up to deny websites through the router.  We have our router so configured and it was not that hard.  A simple internet search will give you directions.

A simpler and more comprehensive way to do this is through two products that I highly recommend – Circle and Covenant Eyes.  Both provide filtering of the internet content but in different ways.  I think they work really well together with Circle providing more flexibility and Covenant Eyes being more comprehensive.

My wife and I love Circle.  As you can see from the picture below, it is a simple white box that you add to your home Wi-Fi system that acts as a control panel for your whole family.  Circle essentially gets between the router and any devices and allows you to control who is seeing what on any specific device.  You can also add time limits and bedtimes on specific devices that are tailored to each person in the house.  Circle keeps a log of all contacts and attempted contacts with your internet.  I understand that they have added a subscription service that allows you to control cellular devices as well.  It is controlled at your fingertips.

Circle doesn’t take a genius to set up.  The instructions are simple though configuring the actual phone installation does take an hour or two.  It is worth it, though.  With the sheer number of devices in the house, it is hard to keep track of who is doing what.  With Circle, you can simply shut down all media access or the technology assigned to one person.  Piece of mind with one touch of a button.   The actual Circle device is cheap too.  We paid $99 at the time and the price has gone down.  Circle’s control panel, pictured below, is easy and intuitive to use. I highly recommend Circle.

Circle by Disney

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Circle by Disney

Circle is not perfect though so I recommend device embedded software as well.  This is monitoring and filtering software that you add to your devices that keeps track of where your family has been and automatically filters their devices.  Installation is a simple download after registration and the filtering happens automatically.  This allows the filtering to follow the phones and iPods wherever your child takes them.  This is obviously particularly important as kids go to school, after care and activities.  While no system is perfect, the combination of these two services takes back control of the media that floods your home.  I highly recommend you look into Covenant Eyes.  It is a subscription-based service but also affordable.

Covenant Eyes

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Covenant Eyes

3)  Cut the Cord

Let’s face it, many of the bad images that our kids get exposed to come from network and cable TV.  Long gone are the days of the Cleaver family.  They have been replaced with shows about Lucifer and Skinemax.  “Cutting the cord” or getting rid of cable heads much of this off by simply denying access.  This does not mean that you cannot watch TV or movies, just that you do so in a different way.  It stops the constant stream of information and replaces it with what you choose to allow in your home and watch.  You will also likely save money.  We accomplish this with our Roku boxes.

Roku is a streaming media player that you hook into your Wifi connection.  It is internet driven.  If you have set up your Circle, you can control what, when and how much content comes through the system.  Roku is also done much like a smartphone.  You choose what type of apps you add to the home screen.  They then show up when you hook it to the TV and get movies, tv, and music through those apps.  There are a million and one different apps that stream anything from sermons to movies to music to live TV.  Some apps are subscription based and others are free.  While there is quite a bit of inappropriate content available through Roku, there are parental controls available to prevent the necessary apps being added as well as limit content by rating.  So we love watching Calvary Chapel sermons, Youtube Christian music and sermons, Amazon Movies, Netflix and other providers through Roku.  We do not allow the unsavory apps to be added.  Netflix and Amazon also have parental limits within their apps as well.

It should be noted again that Roku does have many inappropriate apps available to add to your individual Roku.  Parental controls and one or both of the filtering and monitoring methods above are recommended to head this off.

Roku

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Version 1

Version 2

There are other options available for cutting the cord.   I will list them below.  I am just not as familiar with them as Roku has been our go-to for many years now.

I will note that the stick version of streaming sticks do not seem to work as well as the full versions.

Apple TV

Amazon’s Fire

4)  VidAngel

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We use Vidangel for our non-Christian movie watching experience.  It is a great option for those, like us, who like movies but don’t like the objectionable content.  An otherwise good movie ruined by completely senseless language or other content can now be redeemed.  Vidangel was originally a streaming service much like Amazon where you would rent movies and then filter the content.  After objections from the movie studios, Vidangel became a subscription based service that allows you to watch movies that you rent through Netflix or Amazon and choose specific content to filter out.  They organize the possible objectionable content and either match it to your present filters or allow you to go in and pick and choose what to keep in.  The number of filters applied is usually a good sign of whether a movie is problematic.  After the filters are applied, the movie plays relatively seamlessly with the removed content mostly not noticeable.  When a movie has hundred of filters applied, the movie will not be watchable as those parts are removed…but it was probably not watchable to begin with.

Vidangel has also added some original content as well.

A note here – Vidangel is Mormon owned so that theology can influence their religious originals.

VidAngel

5)  Encourage a Taste for Good Christian Entertainment

The days of Christian movies being universally bad is long past.  Though I love most Christian movies despite varying production quality, the movies in this genre have improved dramatically.  Starting with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the entertainment world caught on to the fact there was a huge potential audience for well made Christian films.  A line up of really good movies followed, from Courageous to most recently I Can Only Imagine.  These were excellent movies by any standard.

The thing is, a taste for even the best Christian films takes time to develop and encourage.  If a child is barraged with only the latest and greatest Hollywood blockbuster, this enjoyment will likely never happen.  This is just not how our flesh works.  When it is fed, it always wants more.  This also applies to you, Mom or Dad or Grandpa.  You are their example.  If you are only watching The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, you will have trouble watching Paul, Apostle of Christ.  It is a great movie but it does not feed the flesh like the others.  Your kids and grandkids will see your choices and turn away from what is good, noble, awesome, excellent and praiseworthy in favor of what feels good to their flesh.

If you are not familiar with Christian movies, here is my list of some that I love to get you started.  If your kids are smaller, I also include Christian kids shows and movies that we have enjoyed over the years to get them started.

Great Movies:

The Case for Christ

Review of The Case for Christ

Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Review – Unbroken: Path to Redemption

I Can Only Imagine

Paul, Apostle of Christ

Review, Paul, Apostle of Christ

Homerun

Review of Homerun

Courageous

War Room

The Passion of the Christ

In addition, here are some great clean TV shows that we enjoy as a family you might want to check out.

When Calls the Heart

Signed Sealed Delivered

Train the Child

Here are some great Kid’s Shows that are enjoyable and teach the little ones about Jesus.

Superbook – This show teaches so much about Jesus in a fun and accessible manner.

Pilgrims Progress Kids Movie –  I love this version of Bunyan’s Classic and you can probably find it somewhere cheaper.  It is a bit intense at times for little ones.

Paws and Tales

Bugtime Adventures

Friends and Heroes – This story of early Christianity is filled with adventures and learning.

6)  Provide Accountability…for Everyone

There is no one that does not need protection from sin.  Each of us has things that are bad for us lurking beneath the surface.  It just takes one of our personal triggers or stressors to bring it out in us.  One of the H.A.L.T’s – Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired brings out the fleshly response in all of us.  So it is important that everyone in the house be accountable.  It is good to know that they are being held to a standard as well.

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Trust is a wonderful thing and many will say that accountability does not teach responsibility to your young ones.  While I certainly agree with appropriately allowing your kids freedom, handing unmonitored internet access to a child is just too dangerous.  It is like handing a monkey a hand grenade, telling it not to pull the pin and expecting it to be okay.  It might turn out without a tragedy, but it is not likely to end well and is a criminally negligent idea.

None of us enjoy disappointing other.  No one likes others seeing their sin.  Accountability can be a motivation in times of weakness to avoid an easy pitfall.  As parents, we can also know when our kids are struggling and need us the most.

7)  Show Love and Grace – It is about the Gospel

The best antidote to any sin is the love and grace of Jesus Christ.  His care and power are what helps us overcome any temptation and break the chains of bondage.  This especially true in an area where shame and condemnation run so strongly.  If you or your child is struggling, this is the time to remember more than ever…Jesus loves you.  Run to His throne and encourage your child to do the same.  You will find mercy and grace in your time of need.

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These steps are relatively simple.  They may take some time and effort to implement but there is nothing involved that every parent should not be able to do if they set their minds to it.  Don’t let your child fight the enemy that is trying to drag them down by themselves.  As a child, they are just not ready.  Use the methods that God has provided and the technology available to protect your child while you still have the opportunity.

Love to all,

Tom

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