Protecting Your Family from Films and the Web

SPECIAL EDITION OF REAL SCIENCE RADIO!

Bob Enyart interviews web designer and Christian homeschool dad Nathan Rambeck on the software tools and best practices for keeping our kids (and their parents) protected from online and film pornography. Of course, if you watch entertainment that includes nudity you are guilty of sexual sin, and if you let your children consume entertainment with nudity, you are guilty of child abuse. 

TIP: Want to be able to relax while you enjoy what should be family-friendly films? Then just click here, because Bob Enyart recommends VidAngel. Overtime we presume that they will produce apps to make using their service even easier, but for now, the way the Enyart family watches VidAngel films is by:
- hooking up one of our computers to our family TV.
Folks can also watch VidAngel's filtered films:
- directly on a computer, tablet, or smartphone
- or if they have a very smart TV that allows them to browse to their website, vidangel.com, and to watch from there.

A parent's guide to protecting your family from online pornography

11 years old. That's the average age American children are exposed to pornography online. Most of this early exposure is unintentional, but with 12% of all websites on the Internet being purely pornographic, it is hardly any wonder.

Did you know that pornographers purposely buy domain names similar to popular websites in order to seduce unsuspecting users into their perversion? All it takes is a spelling mistake in a browser address bar to cause a stream of vile filth to pour on to the computer screen.

To make matters worse, our culture is gradually mainstreaming pornography, so that certain forms of pornography are considered acceptable for "family" entertainment and advertising.

Below is a concise summary of things you can do to protect your family when they access the internet.

Install a Software Filter on Each Computer

A software filter is an application installed on each computer in your household and should have at least 3 features. 1) Block objectionable sites using a continually maintained blacklist of bad sites. 2) Provide regular usage reports that can be delivered to parents showing sites visited and any attempts to view bad ones. 3) Password protected so that only parents can uninstall or disable the filter.

Since adult addiction to pornography is epidemic, the usage reports and password protection features can provide a great opportunity of accountability for spouses or other adults in the home.

My Recommendations:

CovenantEyes [PC/Mac] (http://covenanteyes.com/) They are a Christian company and have a particular focus on accountability, so the reporting they have is superb.

Net Nanny [PC/Mac] (http://netnanny.com/) The Mac and PC versions are totally separate. NET NANNY CAUTION: As of 2015, Bob Enyart does not recommend Net Nanny for Mac. After weeks of effort, we have determined that it is very buggy, and in some instances, allows complete web access when it should be protecting your family. [This warning is still applicable as of December 2015 and we've asked ContentWatch to let us know, at Bob@KGOV.com, when they have improved the quality of their Mac product.]

SafeEyes [PC/Mac] (http://www.internetsafety.com/) One license will protect multiple PCs and/or Macs.

Add A Hardware filter to your home network

A hardware filter will have many of the same features as a software filter, but instead of protecting just one computer, it protects any computer connected to the internet through your network. This means that if a friend or relative comes to your house with an unprotected computer, it can be protected even if it does not have a software filter installed. However, keep in mind that a hardware filter only protects computers on your home network; if you have a laptop computer without a software filter, it may be protected at home, but will not be protected when connected to the internet at a friend's house, the coffee shop, or a hotel. Laptops can even easily connect to a neighbor's wireless network while you are inside your own home. DO NOT rely on a hardware filter alone.

My Recommendations:

OpenDNS (https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/) [FREE] OpenDNS provides a replacement to the a service that your internet service provider usually provides, called DNS. It can be configured on a single PC, or on a router by changing just a single setting. A web interface allows you to configure your filtering settings. For $20/year you can also block specific sites.

Cell Phones and other web-enabled devices

The Internet is becoming ubiquitous in our culture. Cell phones, TVs, gaming consoles, iPods, tablets, eReaders and other electronic devices are, many times, now able to connect to the Internet. Unfortunately, for some of these devices, there are no filtering options yet. When purchasing a cell phone for children, find one without web capabilities or talk to your wireless provider about turning the feature off. When purchasing other electronic devices always ask about their ability to connect to the Internet.

Mobile providers

Don't assume that your phone can't connect to the internet if you don't purchase a data plan. Most providers simply charge a per MB fee for internet data usage allowing anytime access to the web.

Some wireless carriers provide a filtering service for the web access they provide.

Smartphones/Tablets

Smartphones and tablets are more difficult to protect than full-size computers are because the manufacturers of these devices do not allow individual apps to filter the entire system. The best solution for these devices is to install a special browser that offers filtering only when using that special browser. To provide more protection it is important to disable (using parental controls) any other web browsers on the device and any other apps that might allow full access to the web.

Android devices have recently allowed intalled apps to monitor other applications, so these devices allow for more accountability than iPhones or iPads. Apps like Accountable2You offer monitoring services that will let an accountability partners see browsing activity and app usage.

My Recommendations:

CovenantEyes [Android/iOS] - Their special browser will provide filtering for mobile devices that can be controlled through their website.

Mobicip [Android/iOS] - They offer their mobile browser as a free installation with pre-defined filters. If you want to customize the filtering, you can pay for a subscription to their service.

Kindle Free Time

Amazon has done more for their Kindle Fire tablet than any other tablet maker to provide parents with controls to protect their kids. With the FreeTime feature built into the Kindle Fire you can disable web browsing and give your kids access to only a few select apps, for example. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CU0NSCU

Block Advertisements

Because marketers use sex to sell so many products, even browsing a news site or social network may bring up an offensive advertisement. Because of this, I recommend using an ad blocker for your browser. An ad blocker will allow you to browse web pages without having to view any of the ads. A popular ad blocker that has plugins for all browser is Adblock Plus.

Children should never be left alone on the Internet

It is not wise to allow children free access to an internet-connected computer when they are alone or by themselves in a room. Internet filters can work very well, but they are not perfect. Also, industrious young people, can find ways around the filters. I suggest keeping family computers in living areas with lots of traffic and only allow laptops to be used in public areas.

Talk to your children about the dangers of pornography

When your kids reach an age at which sexuality becomes an attraction, talk to them about the dangers of pornography; how it will harm them, their future spouse, and even those women exploited in the pornographic material.