Have you had any experience with Covenant Eyes? What is your opinion? What are the strengths and weaknesses of that program? Have you used the family plan?
My husband is looking at purchasing it for him and my sons to use it all together. Which our boys (20, 18) are ones who have struggled with porn, have come to us about it, and desire to have some firm of aid/accountability.
I have family who use Covenant Eyes on both computers and phones and find it good. I personally use OpenDNS, which is free and set at the router and then applies to any devices attached to the entire network without installing or configuring anything on them. It also supports logging of blocked content. Most routers will also allow you to set them so that devices cannot bypass OpenDNS by setting their own DNS settings — that’s important too.
We use it on my husband’s ipad and phone. It was recommended to him by a friend (who is also his accountability partner and receives his weekly reports). It seems to work well in that he hasn’t had any issues with slowed service, phone crashing, bugs etc. that many of the reviews mention. In terms of cons it does cost a bit more than some of the other options we looked at. We opted for just the reporting aspect of it (as opposed to the filtering and reporting which costs extra). The accountability partner/s that you chose (my husband has myself as the account administrator and a friend from church as an accountability partner) are sent a random selection of blurred screen shots every (week, day, month, however you set it up) as well as a synopsis ie “no concerning activity” I believe there is also a detailed browsing log but I think they may be phasing that out.
From what I understand its limited in its ability to filter or “catch” anything from apps (you need to use their specific web browser for the internet) and I’ve read that there are pretty easy ways around it (some people have mentioned that putting it in airplane mode renders it useless) especially if you are technically inclined (which my husband is).
Honestly I had to step away from research and know that there is not going to be a perfect software solution for a heart issue. I was driving myself crazy looking for the “best” app and they all have some less than perfect things. I think the most valuable aspect of Covenant Eyes is there emphasis on accountability with real people and it is important to be thoughtful about who you choose as your accountability partner, your comfort and willingness to be honest with them and their willingness to initiate frequent and potentially uncomfortable conversations with you are critical. I knew I couldn’t be that for my husband. Thankfully my husband and his friend meet weekly even if the reports have all come back fine. I don’t know what they discuss, I haven’t asked but just knowing they are meeting is more comforting to me than him having the software.
Thanks @tentsofpurple! We realize that there is no perfect software and that any can be gotten around if desired (both of our boys figured out ways to do that on the safeguards we set up for them as young teens. )This is why we do a big push to get to the heart rather than just manage sin. I actually believe that their dad is the most comfortable person for them to talk to at this point in their lives, because 1) he has been publicly open about his own struggle, 2) he has made it a point to get past the uncomfortableness and have the hard talks and ask the hard questions, and 3) they have already experienced the love and grace they will get from us. Just as we believe and tell our children that we are here to walk beside them as a fellow brother and sister in Christ, to help support and guide them when needed throughout life, my husband is now trying to foster that same mindset and relationship between the boys themselves. He wants them to know that even if something happens to him, they can at least have each other to be open with and find that ally they need.
I used Covenant Eyes with my younger son when he went away to school and was struggling a bit. It gave him piece of mind, as well as me. He needed it for a couple of years, but then decided he would do better trusting and depending on the Lord more than the software. Knowing his heart and where he was at in his walk with God, I totally agreed with him and we stopped the service. That was a personal choice that may not work for everyone, but we found that having CE when he really needed it was very helpful, and taking it off when he had come to a place in his faith walk that it was not necessary any longer was equally helpful.
It’s definitely a good tool to have in the arsenal against porn. But I’m glad he grew to a point where it was more detrimental to having it than it was for him to walk in grace and dependence on the Spirit.
With OpenDNS, I’d add that you can get around it with a VPN or by using the Tor Browser, but if neither of those are easily accessible it works well or else it at least makes things complicated enough that the will has time to fight back and reconsider. The fact that there will always be ways around content blocking for people that know how is probably the main reason Covenant Eyes has moved more toward taking screen captures and analyzing them with AI, sending them to accountability partners, etc.
Also, because OpenDNS is set on the router, it will only apply when devices connect through the router’s network. That means it wouldn’t filter if someone disconnects their phone from the home network and browses the web on cellular data or if someone disconnected a laptop from the home network and surfed over cellular data through their phone’s hotspot. For that, I’ve used the iPhone’s built-in (free) Screen Time content restrictions at times, which can also be password protected.