When it comes to home security issues, we typically think of analyzing and paying for the basics: quality dead bolt locks, an alarm monitoring system, and multiple smoke detectors. Maybe we also purchase a dog for the heightened sense of awareness they bring. These are all commonplace methods to deter entry into the home and keep us feeling safe.
Yet there happens to be another major home security issue that is usually overlooked. This one is so big it’s hurting individuals and destroying families. Though we know it’s out there we refuse to take the necessary steps to stop its incursion into our home.
What could be so devastating?
The lack of internet security as it relates to online access of pornography.
Your failure to attentively monitoring the use of technology – mainly the access to apps and the Internet on computers and mobile devices that have become the main tool for the distribution of pornography – may be causing untold damage to your family.
Why the Internet Is a Big Home Security Issue
The Internet has become a vast wealth of information. We can find anything on it by doing a simple Google search. While it has added great value to our lives, it has also granted us access to content that in years gone by was more difficult to attain.
That fact cannot be truer than as it relates to the issue of pornography.
“In 1993,” writes marriage and family therapist Dr. Jill Manning, “when Internet pornography became public, there was a huge shift; that protective barrier between the sex industry and youth dissolved. There used to be restricted movie houses, order catalogues with brown paper that came in the mail, and all those types of things, where a youth had a difficult time, if not impossible time, accessing pornography. Now, through the Internet, if you have the Internet, you have pornography in your home.” [Source]
This quick and easy access has led to the accumulation of some startling pornography statistics. Here are a few just to give you a glimpse of what we are dealing with:
As of the date of this writing, there have been almost 2 billion searches for pornography since the start of 2014.
1 in 5 mobile searches are for porn.
By 2015, money spent on mobile adult content and services is expected to reach $2.8 billion per year.
9 out of 10 Internet porn users only access free material.
9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls were exposed to pornography before the age of 18. The first exposure among men is 12 years old.
28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.
68% of young adult men and 18% of women use porn at least once a week. [Statistics Source]
These statistics go on and on if you’d like to view them by clicking on the “Statistics Source” link I just provided. They are startling and overwhelming. All lead to one conclusion – this is a serious issue that we must address in our homes.
“My Child or Spouse Would Never Do That”
Right now you might be saying, “My child/husband/wife would never intentionally go looking for porn. They aren’t built that way. It isn’t a home security issue in our house.”
My first response to that would be “How do you know?” Have you even had a conversation with them about it? Have you tracked their Internet, instant messaging or smart phone usage? Do you know what they are involved in when you are not around?
The issue with pornography usage is that it thrives in secret, is easily hidden and is almost always lied about. It creates cycles of shame that people refuse to admit to. It even touches those with a spiritual background. One final statistic from the source listed above tells us that 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women claim to be addicted to porn.
But as protectors of the home the issue isn’t whether this is intentionally happening. Unintentional access is happening just as often and that’s where most addictions begin.
Inadvertent access can happen in multiple ways:
- Misdirected searches – This happens when we use a search term for a legitimate reason and have pornographic websites or images appear alongside what we are seeking.
- Misleading URLs – This occurs when someone purchases a domain name that is similar to another .com, .gov or .org address. Searches unintentionally end up at the wrong site instead of their intended destination.
- Innocent word searches – Pornographers have become masters at attaching normal, everyday keywords to their content.
- Brand name misrepresentation – In this instance a pornographer could direct people to their content by hijacking the brand name of a popular company and using keywords to drive search engine traffic.
- Unsolicited emails – Spammers collect emails from many sources. Pornographers use those to entice people to their website with the promise of free content. They are hoping that once the user is engaged they will pay for a membership to the site. [Source]
So protecting the home becomes a real challenge when we realize that so much exposure happens unintentionally.
Short of cutting off the Internet and all media sources from our lives entirely, I’m not sure we can completely eliminate our exposure. The industry is so pervasive. However, there are steps to take to protect the family from this danger.
Internet Home Security Rules to Follow
For me this is a big issue as it relates to my children. I don’t want them falling victim to this industry that can cause mental and emotional scars for years. So my wife and I are taking matters into our own hands by doing research to see how we can best keep this industry at arm’s length.
The website InternetSafety101.org has put together a list of measures to help protect kids online. At the minimum parents should be doing these things:
1. Keep the lines of communication open with your kids.
2. Supervise all their Internet related devices. Routinely check the photos and videos kids post and send online.
3. Know who their friends are and what activities are happening online. This includes all games being played in online formats.
4. Regularly check all social networks or gaming sites kids are frequenting to see what is being posted.
5. Discourage the use of webcams and mobile video devices.
6. Be sure kids use privacy settings and teach them how to protect their personal information online.
7. Teach them how to respond to cyberbullying and instruct them never to meet face to face with someone they only know from being online.
8. Establish a contract with your kids on how they will use the Internet in and out of the home. (You can click here for a downloadable sample .pdf contract from InternetSafety101.org.)
These rules and conversations will be a great start to educate kids about the dangers that face them. But we must take a more proactive approach. Education and communication alone won’t cut it. We need to take advantage of the tools given to us by computers and technology to put up barriers.
Tools to Use
Don’t wait for there to be an issue before taking action. Be proactive in your approach and use these tools to help with this home security issue:
1. Use an age-appropriate filter. Filters help block content that you deem offensive such as pornography, gambling, violent or drug related sites. They can be set based on the age of the user so older children and adults can have greater access to content once they mature.
2. Use monitoring software. There are many companies that have developed software to track and report Internet usage. One such company that we use in our home is Covenant Eyes.
Covenant Eyes is an Internet accountability and filtering service. They record all the websites that are visited and send email reports of those sites. The report identifies for the recipient sites that should be reviewed for questionable content.
In addition, Covenant Eyes offers web content filtering, age-based content ratings, the ability to enlist accountability partners, web browsers for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Android Web and App Monitoring, and a panic button option that temporarily cuts off Internet access.
Accountability monitoring starts at $9.99 for individuals and $13.99 for families. The service is customizable based on the particular needs of the subscriber. In addition, options are available for groups such as schools, churches and other organizations. For us, this service is worth the money we pay for it.
3. Set time limits. Set your computer or Internet service to only be available during certain times of the day. Danger times are when the kids are home alone or late at night.
4. Use safe search engines for kids and set restrictions. Search engines have the capacity to filter out adult oriented content. Adjusting those settings is crucial so websites and images are not inadvertently viewed.
5. Do not allow access to chat rooms and limit instant messaging to approved friends only.
In addition to these steps, my wife and I are also taking some further precautions in our home:
1. We disabled the web browser Safari from all our iOS devices and replaced it with the Covenant Eyes browser.
2. We disabled access to the App store. The kids have to ask permission to download apps.
3. None of our computers are in closed areas. Everything is out in the open with clear visibility to see what is on the screen.
4. Our kids cannot be on a device in their room with the door closed.
5. There is no Internet usage for our kids after 9:30 p.m.
You HAVE to Address This Home Security Issue
Husbands, wives and children alike are being negatively impacted by the long arm of pornography. This issue threatens the very fabric of family life. I don’t think it’s over-the-top to say it’s the biggest home security issue out there.
Whatever must be done to combat it should be considered.
Whatever it costs to do so should be budgeted for.
Whatever inconveniences it produces are worth it.
There is no place for laziness. There can be no turning a blind eye. There is no excuse to remain uneducated about the dangers.
It will take time and effort to manage and I think that is where many spouses and parents falter. That and they don’t think their children or spouse has a problem with it. So the issue is ignored and that’s when the damage happens.
For my money, this is the #1 home security issue facing families today. I don’t want my family ripped apart and my children’s emotion and spiritual health damage because I wasn’t being vigilant. I’d encourage you to consider your feelings about this and set up some home standards today.
You really can’t wait any longer. The next image could be a click away.
Questions: Do you think this is a home security issue? What rules do you have in the home for technology or Internet use? Are you using web-filtering software? How have you seen this issue impact someone’s life?
If you’d like to learn more about the dangers of pornography, how it warps the mind and how to heal from it, visit my Resources page by clicking here. There under the heading “Family Resources” you will find a .pdf download entitled “Your Brain on Porn.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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