Last month we began delving into a topic that families question us concerning quite frequently and that is Internet protection for computers and hand-held devices. If you haven’t read that first article, we suggest you do so before moving on to this one. Here is the link. While we want to focus in this article on mobile devices, there is more we would like to cover concerning personal computers.
Our boys have chosen to have their computers set up so that their screens are facing the door by which people enter the room. They felt that gave them even greater accountability than just the blocking protection K9 afforded. There was the added accountability of how they were spending their time on the computer even if it was an acceptable website since they wanted to be productive with their time not time wasters.
When our children were young, they didn’t have Internet access. When they became teens, they were allowed to use the Internet if an older sibling or parent were sitting beside them. By the time they were fifteen or sixteen, they would generally have their own computers (we have lots of hand-me-downs because of business use of our computers) and have Internet access with web protection.
Our children did not have e-mail until they were older either. We finally gave Mary, our youngest, e-mail when she was fourteen, earlier than the other children had it, simply because so much of our family “organizational” communication had become via e-mail. E-mail is an easy way for us to make sure every family member knows what time we were leaving for an event, what prayer requests have come our way, or when Mom is headed for a Wal-Mart trip. Mary was the only one who wouldn’t know what was going on because she didn’t have e-mail.
We have kept personal e-mail addresses private for family members and close friends. Then we each have a public e-mail address that we use for ordering on the Internet. We now use Gmail, which has eliminated the spam and bad e-mail that had kept us from allowing our children to have e-mail during the years when there was no way to stop those awful e-mails.
When our children get a Gmail address, they give Steve their Gmail address and password. Remember accountability is a strong ally of resisting temptation and remaining pure.
Often we are asked what we do about ads that pop up on sites with immodest women. We have installed an ad blocker on our Internet browser. The browser we like to use is Chrome. If you don’t already use this browser, here is a link to it. Chrome has an ad blocker extension as we believe most, if not all, browsers have. The ad blocker has done a great job of eliminating ads and particularly the ones that were objectionable. Here is a link to it.
As a family, we have chosen to keep YouTube blocked on our computers. If there is a YouTube video that has information we feel we need to have, Teri can unblock YouTube for that particular video through her administrator power, and then it will be blocked again.
What about protection on mobile devices? We use Mobicip. It is a private web filter on the Cloud. It is a filtering software that not only blocks bad sites, but it also tracks where the device has been on the Internet. The basic app is free, but it costs $9.99 per year, per device for the tracking. When we pay for the premium account that includes the tracking, we can add specific sites to both a white or a black list and therefore have a greater ability to customize the filtering. Sometimes filtering is so restrictive that it blocks way too much. This app allows us more flexibility.
The Mobicip reports are available online any time, or you can have them e-mailed to you. Teri has the reports for all our devices e-mailed to her once a week. Then she scrolls through it to see where everyone has been with their devices. Sometimes if she is busy, since she never finds anything of concern in the reports, she has skipped looking through them. However, there is usually a repercussion to this like the time almost all of the devices had reverted to a basic coverage rather than the premium upgrade for which we had paid. When she looked at the reports again, she immediately noticed the problem and contacted Mobicip. They have been good to work with her when we have an issue like that or when we add a new device.
All of our hand-held devices are Apple products so that is what we are familiar with when using Mobicip. In order to have Mobicip be effective, we have to disable Safari in the restrictions. Our family has chosen to have Teri be the one to set the password for restrictions (Settings/General/Restrictions) and have access to the restricted area of our phones. We are grateful for our adult children’s desire to be accountable with their phones. Because of this, they bring their phones to Teri when they want to add an app so she can open the restricted area to them.
Mobicip is definitely a clumsier browser than Safari. We can’t open links that come in an e-mail. We have to open them when we are on our computers. We don’t have sophisticated bookmarks, but because of our desire for protection and accountability, we have chosen to give up some of our freedom.
Can we eliminate every bad influence from the Internet on our children’s lives? Perhaps not, but we are trying to do all we can do. The most important protection for our children is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. As we are in the Word, as we discuss right and wrong, as we look at the pain sin brings, and as we draw our children’s hearts to a deep love for their Savior and obedience to His Word, we give them the best protection of all. However, as Steve shares in our Keeping Our Children’s Hearts workshop, we have all heard of pastors who fall to immorality. These are men versed in the Word, who have been shepherding a flock, and counseling their members. However, they have the flesh, they don’t shelter themselves, they don’t have accountability, and they fail.
Scripture tells us, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15). It also gives us the answer to victory, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).
We want to educate our children on the lures of sin, the frailty of the flesh, and the power of Jesus Christ. He has given us wisdom and direction through His Word to help us such as, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). For our family that equates to the plan for Internet protection and the sheltering that we have chosen to have in place in our hearts and on our computers and devices.
Update: January 2018
We began having problems with K-9 last fall. It often locked up a computer so that it couldn’t access the Internet at all. We uninstalled and reinstalled K9, but then we discovered, it wasn’t working at all even though it was on the computer. We would try to get support/help but there was no response.
So I asked my married sons who work in the computer industry what they were personally using. They both said Accountable2You. It tracks but doesn’t block. When we initially heard about Accountable2You, we weren’t interested because we wanted blocking. But when K9 wasn’t working for us, and we needed to look for another solution, we realized that we weren’t aware of any of us stumbling onto a bad site and K9 needing to protect us from it. Often, though, K9 blocked us from good sites. As I talked to our “computer” sons about that, they said that because we use Google Safe Search, there isn’t as much possibility of accidentally stumbling onto a bad site.
Accountable2You, has something called VPN that is part of their phone app that can track web-browsing on any browser on the phone, not just their browser. So we also use that now rather then Mobicip, which allows my family to use Safari.
With Accountable2You, I get a daily report for each device. Steve gets my reports. It is a summary. I can go online to a detailed report. It is much easier to read and understand than K9 was. If there is questionable usage, I will get a text.
In getting set up, I accidentally sent a diagnostic request for help to Accountable2You. Within an hour, they had responded, said they noticed I needed help, gave me an idea of what to do, and said if that didn’t work to get back with them. I did not receive replies to my support requests to K9.
So far we are very pleased with Accountable2You.