Anyone who has spent any amount of time on the internet knows there’s a lot of bad stuff out there. Even when we’re trying to avoid wicked images and messages, they can pop up on the screen and catch us unawares. First Thessalonians 5:22 exhorts us to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” We can also translate this as “every form of evil.” As God’s children, we must be vigilant in guarding ourselves and our children from evil in all its forms, including the kind on the internet. That’s why if you have a computer in your home but don’t use internet filters, you may want to strongly consider installing one. But with so many choices, where do you start?
Accountability versus Filtering or Blocking
First, let’s look at the difference between two software options. (1) Accountability packages provide the ability for you to select from many email addresses of accountability partners. Your partner(s) will receive reports of everything you view online, thus holding you accountable to develop wise, godly viewing habits. (2) Filtering, or blocking, packages provide the service of deciding which websites are safe for your family to view and which ones should be blocked. Some software packages offer both accountability and filtering. When choosing a software package, consider the following questions:
- Do you want both accountability and filtering?
- How many accountability partners do you want?
- What type of devices need protection?
- How many devices need protection?
- What are the ages included in the package?
- What can you afford to spend on a software program?
Best Packages Available
You might call the following software protection plans “the cream of the crop.” Each has its pros and cons; and keep in mind that no program, no matter how secure, can perfectly protect from the dangers of the internet. But these are certainly excellent options to consider.
This program provides personal accountability but not filtering. Both individual and family plans include real-time internet viewing reports, an unlimited number of accountability partners, and the capability of restricting inappropriate words. The individual plan provides coverage on up to six devices ($6.99 per month); the family plan provides coverage on up to 20 devices ($9.99 per month).
With this program, you can protect your entire family on multiple levels. Each family member’s settings can be customized according to age and maturity level; and each has his or her own username. You can also choose from several options of “block” and “allow” lists, set up specific times of the day to prohibit users’ ability to view websites, and select different filter sensitivity levels for each user. (Levels include everyone, youth, teen, mature teen, mature, and highly mature).
Signing up for Covenant Eyes is thoroughly explained and the instructions are simple to follow, the website is easy to navigate, and customer service is available by email or phone. The price, however, is a little higher: $15.99 a month (family plan) or $11.99 a month (personal plan—for individuals or couples with no children). They offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you decide this program isn’t for you. Another potential drawback is that the filtering/blocking option is not available for tablets (including Kindle Fire) or Android phones; these are accountability only.
This software program offers multiple layers of protection through personal accountability, alerts, filtering and blocking, setting time limits, unlimited personalized user profiles, and prohibiting obscene language. Parents will appreciate this product’s ability to protect their children as well as to hold their spouses accountable. Three different price plans are available are based on the number of devices that need protection. Yearly costs are $39.99 (one device), $59.99 (five devices), or $89.99 (ten devices). The latter two plans can be used for iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and PC. Net Nanny’s interactive, user-friendly website provides clear, helpful instructions on installing the program; you can also contact them by phone for additional support questions during regular business hours (8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. MT).
This is a free blocking or filtering plan for families. The software can be downloaded on individual devices (including iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacOS, Android, and Windows). It doesn’t provide accountability services but does filter content based on personal preferences. You can also create a summary log to view activity on the internet.
Whichever plan you decide on, remember that we already have the ultimate protection—our God-given armor—to help us guard ourselves and our families from every form of evil (see Ephesians 6:11).
• • • • •
Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.