As a Catholic dad, I know the importance of monitoring the media that my family is exposed to. Media has a huge influence on all of us, and especially on the impressionable developing minds of children. When our children were very young our main goal was to protect their innocence. My wife and I did a pretty good job sheltering our children when they were young.
But now that our children have entered middle school, they have a much wider access to the online world. My protection isn’t enough. They need to know how to protect themselves.
Our goals change as our children grow. We want to teach our children to become custodians of their own senses. We want to teach them how to judge for themselves what media choices will lead them to the good, true and beautiful. We want them to grow in virtue.
What we need as parents is a way to empower conversation and teachable moments with our children. I want to filter out the worst of the filth available on the Internet. At the same time I my family to be able to access the good and useful stuff. But most of all I need to be able to see what my children are accessing online so I can guide their decisions.
That’s why my family chose Covenant Eyes as our Internet filter. Covenant Eyes allows us to set customized filters for each family member. We can also set up accountability partners for each family member. My wife and I can be accountability partners for our children and for each other. Accountability partners get weekly reports showing what websites their partner visited. The report flags any filtered sites. My wife and I can use these reports to inform conversations with our children.
At times we’ve noticed that our children tried to access some questionable sites. We were able to ask them about these sites and why they were trying to access them. We were also able to have better informed discussion about why these sites are not good for them. Of course we also talked about the virtues we want our children to grow in.
Other times the reports told us that our children were accessing good or interesting sites. We were able to ask them about these as well. Our goal for these conversations was to share in their interest.
We’re open and honest about these reports. We don’t want our children to feel like we’re spying on them. Having regular conversations encourages our children to be open and honest too. We don’t want them to think they should be sneaking around either.
And of course using Covenant Eyes is just part of our overall media plan. It’s paired with public use of media devices, on-demand media, and shared use of media. In fact, this tool makes our family media plan even more effective.
If you’d like to check see if Covenant Eyes is the right tool for your family, take a look at their “How It Works” page. While you’re on the site, take a look at the excellent free resources they have on this site.
By Jeff Arrowood