We’re always looking for tools to keep our children safe online and so thought we’d share this interesting video. Some of these will depend on the age of your children obviously, teenagers and tech savvy older children won’t often appreciate any monitoring. You can of course be discrete about this especially if you are particularly concerned. As always though the best solution to keeping your children safe online doesn’t involve tools but requires you to just spend time and speak with them.
Enjoy the video – reproduced under Commons Criteria license.
Hey there, Im Kevin with The Culture Project and today we are going to be covering five tools to help keep your kids safe online. Stick with us. Alright, so I can easily remember my parents being completely caught off guard by the internet. They didnt know how to keep us safe from stumbling onto pornography – whether by accident or intentionally – and had no clue how to protect us in general really while we going through whats essentially a window to everything and everyone in the world. Im sure many of you can relate to this. Well, now Im parent. I have a four year old daughter and sixteen month old daughter. We dont let them play with smart devices yet. They don’t have access to the internet or anything like that. But my wife and I are determined to not get caught off guard. When our kids are old enough to be online, we already want to be ready. The good news is that there are a lot of resources out there to help parents like myself keep our kids safe online.
Now, somehow despite years of stories of sexual online predators or data revealing that the average age of exposure to pornography is constantly dropping, despite all that, some parents still seem to view their kids internet activity like its a personal diary. Its not. Its a window to every thought, image, and person on the planet. It requires more, not less involvement from parents than other aspects of their lives. If questions like, Hey, wheres my kid at two in the morning? seem kind of important, so should the question, Whats my kid doing online at two in the morning? Im not saying that we should treat the internet like its evil, but we do need to take it seriously. Like every other aspect of a childs life, every age and every child is going to be different, but whats really key is that we as parents are involved and have the tools to help them.
So, without further ado, here are five tools to help keep your kids safe online. Number one – Covenant Eyes. Not a big surprise. Right, I mean, Covenant Eyes is a staple in anti-porn software world, and for a good reason. There are a lot of website filtering services out there, but what sets Covenant Eyes apart from all the rest is how it functions as both a filter and accountability software. As a filtering service, you can customize how much you want filtered for each person and each device, and you can select specific sites to block or unblock. For accountability, Covenant Eyes sends regular reports to an accountability partner to let them know of any concerning online activity.
You can decide what you want included in the report, how often the reports should go out, and more. The customization means you can have stronger filtering for your kids than you do for yourselves, different settings for each child, and so on. Just to emphasize how hard Covenant Eyes works to keep up with an ever-changing industry: As we were editing this video, they announced their new “Screen Accountability” technology. In their own words, “This service captures screenshots of your devices, detects sexual images using image analysis, blurs the images, and sends an image report to your accountability partner.” This effectively ensures that no matter how a device is accessing pornography, the Covenant Eyes technology will catch it. This is a drastic step forward for accountability and is being offered at no additional cost.
Covenant Eyes is downloadable for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire. For iOS and Android, they use a Virtual Private Network (or VPN) to monitor activity. Its not perfect, the VPN only monitors for accountability purposes, so if you want your browsing filtered, I would still recommend using Covenant Eyes browsing app to browse. Nonetheless, its a huge step and a big part of what makes Covenant Eyes so effective. At $15.99/month for families, I cant recommend it enough. We have it on all of our devices at home. Highly highly highly recommend it. Number two – Protect Young Eyes. So Protect Young Eyes is essentially the sister site to Covenant Eyes, all focused on helping parents and their kids. Its not software though, but rather an educational resource. Theres a ton of content on their site worth checking out, but easily the most valuable part of the site is the rundown of various apps and devices. Protect Young Eyes does a phenomenal job describing the most popular iOS and Android apps out there and providing a thorough rundown of all the potential pitfalls.
What you should you be cautious about, whats safe, whats not. Its all there. It also walks through how to setup just about any device out there to be as safe as possible. Especially helpful is the guide for safety settings on gaming consoles. A lot of parents dont seem to realize this, but it’s pretty easy to access porn through a gaming console. Overall, Covenant Eyes and Protect Young Eyes are easily the top two most helpful resources out there. But we’ve got three more, so lets keep going. Number three – Circle with Disney. Circle with Disney might seem like its just the filtering of Covenant Eyes without the accountability or versatility, but what it offers for at-home filtering and control over wifi-connected devices is incredibly robust. For a one-time purchase, Circle with Disney offers Circle Home, which, in their own words: pairs with your Wi-Fi router and allows you to manage every device on the network. By keeping track of all internet traffic in your home, everyone gets an online experience customized just for them. End quote.
I cant stress enough how comprehensive the customization options here are. Not only can you set filtering levels for each device, you can also set a bedtime for each of them to disconnect from WiFi, schedule parts of the day to be wifi-free, put time limits on specific apps, and even check the history and usage of each device. Honestly, thats barely scratching the surface of what Circle Home can do. As an add-on to Circle Home, you can also get the Circle Go app, which uses a VPN to extend the Circle Home control, filtering, and customizations anywhere you go.
Subscription for this is $4.95/month for up to ten devices. Number four – Bark. This is likely to be the most controversial one on our list. As many of its reviewers have noted, Bark can have a bit of a big brother feel to it. In their own words: “Bark monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 24 different social networks for potential safety concerns. It looks for activity that may indicate online predators, adult content, sexting, cyberbullying, drug use, suicidal thoughts, and more.” End quote. Not only will it alert a parent should any of these come up, the app also offers advice on how to approach each individual issue. A lot people feel like this is a step too far for monitoring, but you can work with your kids to customize the settings and make sure that you’re only alerted of the things that you would want to know. Finally, number five – Protect Young Minds. Not to be confused with Protect Young Eyes. I wish they could’ve coordinated the names a little better too. Oh well. Protect Young Minds has some great practical advice on prepping your kids for online activity.
Walking them through how to be careful, what to look out for, and what to do if they do, accidentally or not, stumble across pornography. Honestly though, there is a lot of great stuff out there. To recap: Covenant Eyes, Protect Young Eyes, Circle with Disney, Bark, and Protect Young Minds. But at the end of the day, you could have all of these resources and it will mean nothing if you dont sit down and have a conversation with your kids. No matter how old your child is, even if, like mine, theyre too young to be using the internet, its a good idea to start these conversations early. Matt Fradd and Ascension Presents released two videos on how to talk to your kids about pornography. Highly recommend giving these a watch.
Well link in the description below. Alright, that’s it for today! Are there any obvious resources we missed? Let us know! We would love to follow this up with more even more recommendations in the future. Thank you so much for watching. God bless. .
Additional Tools available:
Diverting your children towards safe and educational sites isn’t always easy but it is possible. Some of the best shows for youngsters are actually available on British television and virtually all of it is available online. The BBC is obviously great but you can also get lots of ‘younger’ programmes on the commercial stations Channels 4 and 5 plus the great ITV Hub can even be watched abroad relatively easily – follow this link.
Beware the tools that can bypass content filters and blocks though as there readily available online. This article is called Do I Really Need to Buy a Proxy Server and can explain some of the technology that can be used to bypass surveillance even if it’s only from your parents!