Protecting Your Home from Porn – Pt. 1

A few years ago my best friend from college called me in tears. Their six-year-old son typed a “potty word” into a search engine and, for three weeks, watched hard-core porn videos until he was caught.

No one wants to be an overprotective parent. Overprotective parents breed ill-equipped kids. But we must be appropriately protective. Even though boys 12-17 are the largest per capita consumers of internet pornography, the threat of porn exposure is very real for younger kids and girls. Almost all kids are exposed to porn in their tween and teen years. The call is clear: We have to both minister to (Catching Your Child in Sexual Sin) and protect this rising generation in the face of such a media-savvy, sexually broken culture.

This post is about protection: In part one, I will cover an inside-the-home protection plan, and in part two I’ll discuss an outside-the-home protection plan.

What ways can we protect our home from pornography usage? Our family protection plan includes overlapping means of protection. Some of these might seem like overkill, but trust me, they are necessary.

Inside-the-Home Protection

1. Filter Your Router

All your wireless devices (laptops, tablets, e-book readers like Kindle, smartphones, gaming consoles, and even newer TVs) can connect to the Internet via your WiFi router. Filters act like walls that prevent users from accessing inappropriate content, and filters that attach to your router block porn at the source. Routers can be filtered by installing software like OpenDNS, but another option is to get a hardware device that filters all Internet enabled devices you assign to your home WiFi network.

In my home, I made a one-time purchase of $99 on such a device, Circle with Disney. After downloading the Circle app on my wife’s phone, we customized our filter for each child and each device. We can set time limits, view search histories, block specific websites and apps, and set bedtimes, all customized to each of my four children. Other devices like this include Torch and Clean Router. So far, Circle with Disney is working great for us!

There are, however, two things these awesome router filters can’t do. First, if your child takes her device over to a friend’s house, she can access the Internet on that family’s WiFi but without your router’s protective settings. Second, even if your child is at home, he or she can go into the “settings” on a smartphone or tablet and switch off its connection to your WiFi. Then the data plan kicks-in, and the device accesses the Internet via their data plan.

2. Enable Password-Protected Search Engines

Some may think that if you have router protection, then this step is unnecessary. However, we advise multiple layers of protection. While there are many browsers and search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and Internet Explorer, as of now, Google is the only major search engine that gives the option for password-protected parental controls (Google SafeSearch). The big point here: You must set and guard the password. You can, of course, block access to other search engines through your filtering programs, but this step is not foolproof.

Everything mentioned so far restricts access to inappropriate content on the Internet, but you will need one more, crucial element to your family protection plan.

3. Install Accountability Software on All Devices

Accountability software will email a report of Internet use to an accountability partner; it’s the hall monitor of the Internet. Router protection only filters and blocks, so we recommend accountability software as well. This report will actually enable you to see the websites your family is visiting and will give you an opportunity to see where your family is using their time.

A filter is simply mechanical, but accountability is relational: An accountability report invites discipleship conversations with your kids that you can talk not only about their Internet behaviors, but also about their heart and walk with the Lord, as you see what is most important to them via what they are accessing on the world-wide web. It needs to be said: Adults need honesty too with peer accountability partners, their brothers and sisters in Christ!

There are a lot of great companies offering accountability software: Covenant Eyes , Net Nanny, Safe Eyes, and many more. The big point here is to actually check those accountability reports. Accountability software only works when accountability in relationship is in place.

Our kids are in a war, outwardly assailed by the world and inwardly wrestling with lust, selfishness, confusion, and shame. If we abdicate talking about these struggles, and if we simply neglect to protect them, we leave them absolutely isolated and vulnerable in this war. So, use everything we’ve mentioned in this post to move toward your child’s heart and encourage them with the grace and hope of Christ. They need that in the face of their hyper-pornified culture.

Dan Wilson
About The Author
Dan is excited to lead the STUDENT OUTREACH because of its unique mission to the emerging generation of the Church in today’s cultural climate! Before moving to the national office in Philadelphia, Dan served for nine years with Harvest USA’s Chattanooga regional office. He is also an ordained minister in the PCA and has served as a youth minister, education minister, pastor with para-church ministries, and taught New Testament at Bryan College (TN). Dan, a Tennessee native, has a B.A. in History from the University of Memphis, a M.Div. and a Ph.D. in New Testament and Greek from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (TN). Dan is married to Heather, his lovely wife, and they have four children. He loves Kingdom theology and is a huge U2 fan.