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The Biggest Home Security Issue Everyone Is Missing

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.

home securityYet 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Innocent word searches – Pornographers have become masters at attaching normal, everyday keywords to their content.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.”

Image Credit

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.”

Next Post: Finding Balance in the Holiday Gift Giving Madness

Prior Post: The Hidden Issue Behind the Best-Laid Plans

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Comments

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  2. I found it funny that the majority of families are spending a lot of money to ensure their home security whether it is with an electric gates system or video security and alarm monitoring system, ignoring the damage and the issues that the internet can cause to families, primarily children.

  3. It’s true that you might say that either your spouse or children can’t do this and that but things happen without you knowing them. Internet feed so many information and that filtering items from the web before your family gets them is a better option.

  4. Thank you for posting this for all of us to benefit from, Brian. I feel like the sixth point you made related to home internet security for little ones (teach children to use privacy settings) is something very, very important. When I was young I was never taught how to use privacy settings.. We learned the hard way! I still think it should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum in our country. Hopefully this will help other parents and household members alike make informed, safe decisions online.
    Sam recently posted…Computask are here to give you all the anti-virus support you needMy Profile

  5. As you said in the introduction, when you think about home security, you typically picture an alarm system and locks on the doors and windows. I must admit that is what I thought of when I first read the title of this article. I was pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised to see that it was about a different safety issue within the home. Protecting your family from unsafe internet search results and sites is very important to their overall emotional safety, not just their physical safety that locks and alarms protect. I would like to install some of these in my own home. That being said, of the suggestions you made for increased protection, which would you say is the most beneficial?

    • I’d say at the minimum you need the monitoring software (like Covenant Eyes) installed on every computer and handheld device. You get reports from them of all internet activity. But kids are smart and can find ways around it especially through apps and such. So that’s why we’ve taken additional steps to block this from coming into the home.
      Brian recently posted…How to Save One Thousand Dollars in a MonthMy Profile

      • Albie Cardew says:

        Thank you for the suggestion about a monitoring software. That should help quite a lot. You mentioned that you installed other measures to block kids from finding loopholes to the software through apps and whatnot, which I think would be good for me to do as well. What kind of measures are those?

  6. I’m a writer for Fight the New Drug, so this is an important topic to me. Thanks for sharing it! Personally, I use K9 Web Protection. It’s a free software and seems to work pretty well. Although I haven’t actually tried any other software so I imagine some could be better.
    Ben Luthi recently posted…The Benefits of TithingMy Profile

  7. Great post! We currently use Safety Eyes on our computers and filters on other devices. Are kids are only allowed on screens in the family room and not in their rooms. I’m curious about the software that you use. Wonder how much different it is from Safety Eyes (Dave Ramsey recommends it).
    Margaret recently posted…Do Your Kids Remember What They Got For Christmas Last Year? And a Poll!My Profile

    • We tried Safe Eyes before and for some reason didn’t like it…don’t remember if it was the cost or the features. I haven’t looked at it in awhile so don’t know how they compare to CE now. I do like the email updates that CE provides.

  8. Im taking note the ‘rules to follow’ and the ‘right tools to use’. Im very much careful on letting my kids browsing online by their own. The sphere is real risky. Thanks for your advice.

  9. Very timely Brian. I have a kid who is 10-year-old. He asks so many questions about the-topic-that-is-sensitive. I have an open communication to him and handle the topic very carefully. I also filter internet and look for means that make him understand what is right. I have rules, which I am happy the he follows religiously.
    Jayson recently posted…What Life Insurance Policies Won’t CoverMy Profile

  10. Thanks for writing about this issue, Brian. It’s a huge issue today and I’m actually surprised that this statistic is not higher “28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.” It’s also interesting (or crazy) to think of how long it took schools to adopt to safe internet usage. My friend and I were doing research in the computer lab (this was when the internet and computers were really new, think 1995). and we went to a .com site instead of .gov and let’s just say that was the first time we were both unintentionally exposed. We told the teacher. Just crazy to think that elementary schools didn’t even have filters set up back in the day.
    DC recently posted…How to Accomplish Goals by using the “Financial Bridge” TechniqueMy Profile

    • “…how long it took schools to adopt to safe internet usage.” And kids are way more savvy with computers now. They know what’s out there, how to get to it and how to hide it. Security has to be a priority in that environment.

  11. I think it’s great to bring this up, setting up a blocker to avoid adult websites is a great idea to avoid the wrong way to learn about adult content.
    Even Steven recently posted…An Interview of Sorts with 1500 DaysMy Profile

  12. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic, Brian. We use Covenant Eyes too and have found it to be the most secure service for this problem. My 15 year old daughter is a budding professional artist, and has made it a goal to provide CLEAN instructional art for people because she got so sick and tired of working to find instructional art info on line and ending up seeing porn. The words of Paul in 2 Timothy, chapter 3, are ringing all too true these days.
    Laurie recently posted…May I Suggest Some 2015 Resolutions for Your Money?My Profile

    • We’ve used several of these filtering services and CE works the best for us. I can only imagine what she saw in the art world. Interesting what can be called “art” nowadays.

  13. One day my husband got on my computer and there was a pop-up for some site called Ashley Madison that claimed to be for married people to meet each other and cheat. It wasn’t necessarily a porn site but it was definitely a bad one! Fortunately, my husband didn’t think twice about it. Still, I definitely did not click on anything that purposely led me to get that pop-up. You’re so right that those types of sites are programmed to pop up if you search for certain things or land on certain pages. My friend was telling me that she searched for face lotion the other day and ended up on a full-fledged porn site somehow.
    Holly recently posted…Another Way to Earn Free Money- QmeeMy Profile

  14. I had a really eye opening experience when I was trying to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods online and typed in the wrong address, so I can certainly see how someone could stumble upon something lewd without even trying. With a daughter I do worry about all the internet predators out there. All we can do is be especially vigilant and have an open dialogue about how the world is. Thinking it won’t happen is a really good way to be disappointed.
    Kim recently posted…When Is It Time To Think About a New Car?My Profile

    • Oh my gosh Kim! I can only imagine. That is a perfect example of how this can unintentionally cross someone’s path. There are all kinds of innocent keywords we can input that can lead to inappropriate sites. Sadly the porn industry knows this and takes advantage of it to distribute their product.

  15. The other commenters are mentioning the children, and they are right to! But we can’t ignore that this is also a problem with adults. I have heard too many stories of adults who are struggling with this. These are otherwise strong and wise Christians, people. This is such a stronghold. I think we all are too easily shamed and this is something too easy to hide– until it destroys relationships.

    Thank you so much for putting those statistics out there again for us to really grasp. Chances are someone you are close to is struggling right now with this very issue. Chances are many readers of this blog are also struggling. We need to realize that this is a problem that we cannot help until there’s at least some transparency to know who and how to help.

    I suggest, as you said, asking. Point blank. Even if you think it don’t think it would ever apply to that friend or loved one. Ask in a non-confrontational and supportive way. Even if they don’t feel comfortable enough to be honest if they have a problem now, they will know that you care enough to know and may be willing to confide later when they admit they need help saying no to the temptation. (And hey, if this person really doesn’t have a problem saying “no” to the dark parts of the internet at least you get friend/spouse points for caring enough to make sure that they don’t.)

    And, if you are the one with the problem, you have to take the first scary step and tell someone point blank. It’s okay. Your admission will not only be a huge step for you but a huge step for the shamed and secret struggle that affects so many. Stand up and help us all!
    Mrs. WW recently posted…Is Generosity Ever Wrong?My Profile

    • Thanks so much for those thoughts Mrs. WW…you are right on so many levels. Unfortunately within the church this is viewed as “the biggie” of all sins and many who have outed themselves have received poor reactions from other Christians. Biblically speaking, sin is sin. This is no different than the sins of pride, anger, greed, envy, etc. I’d be careful who I admitted this to. Make sure it’s someone who loves you enough to walk with you through it.

  16. It’s not if, it is when…so as parents you need to be proactive and teach your kids about what is out there and also be able to handle it yourself. No one is immune. As someone that works with people at church with challenges of this nature in marriages pornography and finances are the two biggest challenges. You can fix finances with a budget, but addiction to porn can take a lot longer. We find the average age of introduction to be 9 years old. Again it’s not if, it is when so you can choose to be a proactive parent or a reactive parent. It’s the same with finances…take the time to teach and you’ll be glad that you did or let your kids try to figure it out themselves or hear from their friends…but that is a big risk.
    Lance recently posted…Living a Money Lie Part 1My Profile

    • “…proactive parent…” I think this is one of those big things to get out in front of. Because this activity is done so much in secret, by the time you discover it and then react a child could have years of viewing already built up. That will take a great deal of effort to recondition the brain.

  17. Excellent post, Brian! You are right so many of worry about keeping danger from getting inside their home but porn is already inside, thanks to the internet. And I do believe for most young children that their exposure is accidental because there are lots of misleading links out there. These are some great tips and you can beat that will be taking them all under consideration, so thank you for sharing them with us.
    Shannon recently posted…5 Holiday Mistakes that Put You on the Naughty ListMy Profile

    • “…their exposure is accidental…” And for younger kids (7 or below) I’d say the long term effects would be minimal on an accidental exposure. The closer they get to adolescents as their minds begin to mature is where the real danger lies in accidental exposure. They will want to explore that more instead of being confused by it.

  18. We are concerned about this and other “adult” issues like language and violence that my son can be exposed to at home when we are not paying attention. Thank you for sharing all of these resources and tips on how to protect our kids better.
    Shannon recently posted…Music Mondays – Shake It OffMy Profile

    • You are right Shannon…it’s not just porn that’s the issue. A whole host of bad content can be retrieved online. In our house we are diligent to monitor all forms of media including TV, music and movies.

  19. Good topic Brian. I think it’s important to let your kids know that you will be watching and review what they are surfing, so the understand this right from the start. Most routers can be set up to restrict wifi or internet during certain time periods. I have social accounts on all the networks my kids are on and follow them and review what they are posting each day, there have been times I had to have them delete things, mainly other comments from others.
    Brian recently posted…PassionMy Profile

    • “…so they understand this right from the start.” Yes! You have to set the expectation early and often that you will be looking over their shoulder. But then…you have to follow through with it. Words are meaningless unless there is action placed behind them.

      But they need to know that you are looking over their shoulder not to catch them being bad, but to protect them from the bad. That’s a critical difference they need to understand and one I think they will appreciate.

  20. This is the numbeR one thing that has me frightened as a parent. I don’t yet have to worry about it – my daughter has an iPad, but we download things and keep Internet access off. But the day is coming. I want to make sure I’m being proactive and yet domaineering about this (and really, all) issue(s).
    Kirsten recently posted…Why Being Friends with Your Coworkers Isn’t Always a Good IdeaMy Profile

    • I understand the fear Kirsten. It all comes down to being aware, attentive and vigilant. We can’t turn a blind eye to this issue and pretend it isn’t there. As the stats show the majority of kids will be impacted by this and at a very early age. We’ve got to get our head out of the sand and develop a plan to combat it.

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