Which Internet Filter Should You Use to Protect Your Kids from Porn? Qostodio vs. Covenant Eyes

by | Oct 25, 2019 | Pornography, Uncategorized | 22 comments

Qustodio vs. Covenant Eyes for Internet Filters: Which is best for your family?
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Porn is not harmless. Social media can be a minefield. And the internet can suck productive time away and cause us to miss out on important parts of our lives.

That’s why I believe parents have to get a handle on their kids’ internet usage, and why I firmly believe in having some sort of internet filtering.

However, today I’m a little preoccupied with my new grandbaby (!), so I asked Joanna, who works with me, to write up her ideas for keeping kids safe on the internet. She’s a young mom married to a techie husband with some great ideas to help you and your family navigate these difficult waters.

This post contains affiliate links.


I was born in 1990 and I had my first video game when I was a preschooler.

It was a coloring program and I loved filling everything in with my two favorite colors: baby pink and periwinkle blue. What makes me laugh today? That game was on a floppy disk. We unplugged our phone line when I was in elementary school to connect to the internet and I remember debating my friends about which search engine was better. I now have to capitulate to Zach that he was right: Google reigns supreme.

Today’s kids are growing up in a completely different world.

Most children have tablets of their own before they hit school age and instead of the benign coloring game of my youth, today’s games are optimized to create addictive or compulsive behavior and to take advantage of the wiring of kid’s brains. But it’s not all bad.  My daughter (who is 19 months) FaceTimes with her grandparents most days, which allows her to have meaningful relationships with our family who are far away. When my grandmother moved away from her own mom when she had little ones, they weren’t even able to call each other on the phone – they sat and had coffee at the same time in their different cities and knew they were together in spirit. Technology allows my mom and me to sit and chat over coffee from across an international border and I am so grateful for that.

Parenting in today’s complex, totally connected world requires holding two things in tension: protecting vulnerable kids while increasing resilience. Research shows that not allowing children to have spaces to take risks, fail, and try again is bad for emotional development. But also I’m terrified of being remiss and having something horrible happen, or having my daughter be taken advantage of by someone who doesn’t have her best interest at heart.

Take the “bronie” subculture that has infiltrated kid’s cartoons and has created spaces that are unsafe for our children. There is an internet saying that, “if it exists, there is porn of it” and, unfortunately, it is true, even for kids’ media. A child searching for a favorite my little pony character on google may stumble upon very adult depictions of that same character. Many of the showrunners who are currently working in children’s animation got their start creating pornographic or semi-pornographic images of cartoon characters for adult enjoyment. All of this is terrifying for me as a young mom. I want my daughter to be able to look up a my little pony, without seeing one pole dancing. (Wish I was joking here.)

And then there’s all the research coming out about how early porn use and porn exposure affects kids long-term. Authorities recently busted several hundred people in the largest child pornography sting to date, and most were white-collar workers in their 20s in Korea, who had never been in a relationship. But they had been hooked on porn since they were young teens. And boys are not the only ones who use porn. Teenage girls are increasingly at risk  of developing a porn addiction, too.

It’s really easy to read this kind of stuff and think, “alright then, back to 1855 for us. Let’s go live without internet and see how that serves us.” But that’s totally impractical for one – I don’t have a time machine – and it also throws away all of the benefits of technology.

Right now, I can choose what media I allow my daughter to consume. But my days of having complete control are going to go away.

I am absolutely all for allowing her to have appropriate guard rails at our home so that she is safe when using technology. We’ll come up with screen time limits that work for our family as our daughter grows while also allowing her to enjoy the many wonderful things that come along with screens. For example, I definitely want to teach her to code! Being a woman who codes is one of the great pleasures of my professional life, for whatever reason, and I want her to feel the rush of capability that comes with getting a file to execute. (/overlyexcitedrant).

One of the tricky parts of parenting today is the necessity of putting parental controls on kids’ devices.

The world really is out to get our kids and online communities are often unsafe for children. But there’s a fine line between parental controls and spying and these are difficult waters for both kids and parents. I think knowing your child, having a track record of trust, and keeping conversation going are incredibly important as we navigate these difficult waters.

Regardless of what features you decide are important for your family in particular, it’s important to have some sort of filtering software in your home to protect your kids and put up guard rails to keep the benefits of technology while doing away with a lot of the dangers. If you’ve been around the blog for awhile, you’re probably aware of our deep and abiding love for Covenant Eyes, an internet filtering and porn prevention service. But recently, Sheila and Tammy discovered Qustodio, which is a parental control service and internet filtering service that we also want to tell you about.

First of all: here’s a comparison of the features for each one!

Internet Filtering

Yes

Yes, with specific focus on blocking adult websites

Location Tracking

Yes, with panic button included on android

No

Reporting

No reports sent, but browser history is available, including youtube search history and Facebook usage reports

Updates and reports sent to accountability partner or parent

Screen Time Limits

Yes, including limits per user across devices

No

Prevent Apps from Opening at Certain Times of Day

Yes, including limits per user across devices

No

Call Tracking

Yes, call and text tracking is included

No

Number of Devices Supported

Various price points support up to 5, 10, and 15 devices

Unlimited, up to 10 users

Why you might be a Qustodio household

I was really excited when Sheila and Tammy recently told me about Qustodio. They offer web filtering, location tracking (so that you can see where the device is–and where your child is), technology usage limits, social media tracking, and allows all of that to be done across devices. It’s a great service and has won PC magazine’s editor’s choice award for its customization, ease of use, and versatility.

Honestly, as an adult I love so much of this, too. If I could give myself a 20 minute limit on certain sites a day, then I likely wouldn’t waste so much time! And if you could shut down your kids’ access to the internet at 10:30 pm, for instance, I bet a lot of porn use would disappear.

Qustodio offers a fuller range of services but does not include pornography controls specifically. It will filter the web, but does not include a report specifically geared towards porn, like Covenant Eyes. For families for whom porn addiction is not a current problem, Qustodio offers web filtering and a variety of other controls that are easy to use and practical.

Pricing for Qustodio is $54.95 annually to cover 5 devices, $96.95 annually to cover 10, and $137.95 to cover 15. Use code QUST10 for 10% off your order AND they offer a free 3 day trial so you can give it a try before committing. Check it out now!

Why you might be a Covenant eyes household

Covenant Eyes is amazing at blocking pornography. It also has great filtering technology, blocks adult websites, and sends screenshots of blurred out images to an accountability partner. It also sends updates and reports to that partner. It’s an amazing option for those who are dealing with pornography as it is hard to work around and includes a lot of safe guards. While it would certainly work for families, it doesn’t offer the range of options that Qustodio does. However, it can be used with an unlimited number of devices and up to 10 users for $183.99 annually. If you’re dealing with a porn problem in your home – Covenant Eyes is for you! Use the code TLHV to get your first 30 days free.

Internet Filters on your Computer--Qustodio vs. Covenant Eyes

What are your rules for screen time with kids? How have you navigated these difficult waters? Let me know in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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22 Comments

  1. Belle Grace

    I have 2 perspectives on this topic. One being that when I grew up…there was no internet or cable tv. The only access to porn or risque photos was sneaking a copy of Playboy magazine into your house. Two you couldn’t gain access to Playboy unless it was already inside your household or you were old enough walk & to find it somewhere else & sneak it inside. And if your parent found that Playboy magazine…they threw it away or grounded you.

    But today’s mom & dad aren’t controlling the internet access because they’re overusing it themselves & need it to keep their kids quiet & out of their hair.

    Shouldn’t the parents be the … parental control when it comes to the internet?
    It’s easier to say oh the internet is corrupting my child vs I’m not stopping my child from being from corrupted.

    What’s the difference between not letting a child cook on the stove without you vs using the internet.

    I liken the abuse of the internet to the situations where parents blame McDonalds etc for their child being overweight. McDonald’s doesn’t come to us…we go to it.

    I often find myself frustrated with how today’s parents & society have deemed the internet…a need vs a want. The internet is an option. The internet doesn’t abuse you…you abuse the internet with overuse & misuse.

    We have to teach children not to depend on using the internet. But most importantly we can’t rely on the internet to…raise our kids. Too many parents don’t hold themselves accountable for how their kids abuse the internet.

    Be the parent turn off the access. Don’ t let your young kids stay on online 24/7. Don’t let the internet babysit your kids…then blame the internet when you child doesn’t something that embarrasses you. And keep the computer in a central location in your home like the living room. Every child doesn’t deserve or have to have a laptop, smartphone or tablet. They will not die without the internet…but the could if they are allowed to abuse it.

    Reply
    • BD

      I agree with much of what you say. The internet is *mostly* a want for kids, not a need. However, we have an obligation to teach them how to use it. I would never suggest that our children be allowed unmonitored access to the internet, and we try hard not to let the internet be a babysitter. We don’t have television, and my phone is off limits to everyone except me (no games). Our computers are in the dining room, turned so that anyone can see the monitors.

      I’ve learned, however, that there ARE times when our children do need the internet. School projects, assignments, etc (especially as they get older) all assume access to the internet. With four children, I can’t sit with each one all the time and make sure their internet use is safe. I love knowing that there’s a safeguard (we use Qustodio and Net Nanny) in place for the times I am not available. We do use the time limits available with Qustodio, and the kids know that the internet is simply unavailable at certain times of the day; this takes any argument or negotiation off the table.

      Times HAVE changed, and our approach needs to take that into account. With porn being so terribly accessible, unlike when we grew up, extra vigilance and using the tools we have is only wise.

      Reply
      • Joanna Sawatsky

        Those are some great safe guards you have in place! It’s hard to be a parent today – there’s so much good and so much hard. And kids are all different so we have to shift how we handle ourselves to the ones we have at their various ages and stages. It’s a lot but it’s also so worth it! Keep on keeping on 🙂

        Reply
    • Sharlene Huizinga

      It is so true that we need to be watching our kids, but eventually, our kids are going to grow up and “need” to use the internet for school projects, research, etc. It is much easier to teach them while we are still monitoring them. And I always point out to others that is not necessarily that your kids are looking for “bad” things, but they type something wrong, and then their eyes are opened in a bad way….. Just some food for thought for you. 🙂

      Reply
      • Joanna Sawatsky

        I 100% agree with this.

        Reply
  2. Nathan

    Much of what you say is true, although a filter can be like an extra level of security. Absolutely parents ought to monitor what their child does on the internet, have it plain site, and have rules about when to use or not use it. A filter can help above and beyond that, though.

    Like you, I was a kid before the digital revolution. The only porn was the stereotypical stash of magazines in the basement. My friends and I all had dads with that. Many of them said that it was okay because their wife didn’t know. From other chat boards, though, my guess is that the wives very often DID know, they just didn’t want a confrontation.

    We use Covenant Eyes as we like the reports that it gives us. A friend and his wife asked my wife and me to be accountability partners after she caught him watching porn one time when she came home early. To be equally fair, we all agreed to be accountability partners for each other. My own internet use is fairly boring (news, financial and scientific research, etc.), but we all felt it would be best to ALL have it installed and be partners for each other. We double date once per month and go over the recent months activity. The reports help.

    His progress is slow, with some backslides, but steady. Overcoming a porn addiction doesn’t happen in a day or even a few months. But it can be done.

    Overall, yes, parental awareness and boundaries are EXTREMELY important, but an extra level of help is always appreciated.

    Reply
    • Katie

      How old do you think kids should be when you start using a filter like either of these?

      Reply
      • Arwen

        Start the moment they start using a computer. The age of kids being exposed to porn is getting lower and lower, young as 5 years old! Once they know how to dial a number it’s time to filter. Better safe than sorry.

        Reply
        • Joanna Sawatsky

          Amen and amen.

          Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      Exactly! I love the way you put this! (And I’m with you that the wives probably did know and just didn’t want to mention it.)

      Reply
  3. Flo

    Joanna, I think that you are completely right that it is very important to teach coding to children. Especially to our daughters, as too few women do coding now! It is a requirement for more and more jobs, and yes, it is very empowering. My husband is a software developer, but for my work, which is not at all IT-related, I also need to write some Excel VBA scripts, and I find it very interesting and rewarding to do so; it allows me to have so much better understanding of what is happening with the important data.

    On the question of which porn blocking program to use… I think often the best choice is to use blocking and logging (making a list of all visited websites) on the level of the router. We use different devices with different operating systems, but on router level you can just control all internet activity for all devices. My husband does not know the administrative password to our router, only I have it, so he cannot disable blocking and logging there.

    Reply
    • Natalie

      Not to mention coding is GREAT career option for a woman who wants to be a SAHM! Our kids will definitely all learn coding. It’s going to be part of the custom homeschool lesson plans I teach them.

      Reply
      • Joanna Sawatsky

        That’s a really good point! It’s such a marketable skill, too, and it can be so fun! (And also infuriating. But then it’s a good character building experience!)

        Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      That is some great advice! I’ll have to do more looking into the router options.

      And yes – I remember being the computer lab when me and my friends (all women) were learning how to code in our stats programs and just feeling so amazing. I’ve got a big coding project coming up and I’m SO excited. Glad you get to enjoy it too 😀

      Reply
  4. Ann

    I’m having trouble finding a filter that blocks searches like “bikini” or “b**b“ etc. Google safe search still allows it and although Qustodio reports the search, I’d prefer to have a filter so that currently it is not even seen. Any suggestions for something that filters that (OpenDNS and clean browsing did not work)?

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      I don’t have any expertise on that, since my only child is a toddler… but I’d love to hear if you come up with a solution! Perhaps you could install blocks on certain words via Qustodio parental controls?

      Reply
  5. Arwen

    This is great Joanna! I have been conflicted a lot throughout my life about homeschooling or on sending my future kids to private or public school. Until i saw a homeschooling mom on YouTube homeschooling her kids on the computer. I had NO IDEA that you could do that. I thought homeschooling was going to be like how i grew up, a bunch of books in a classroom setting writing on the board, which i find boring and physically demanding for me. But if everything has been converted to computer, i most defiantly consider homeschooling now!

    Thanks for recommending these filters and keep recommending more as technology increases. I was also born in 1990 too!

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      Hi Arwen!

      Yeah, I’m really excited about all of the educational opportunities out there, today! I’m amazed by all of the awesome subscription boxes for kids that include really fun coding or art projects – so much better than the magazines that we got as kids! (And I LOVED getting those.)

      Educational choices are so personal and so situational, but I’m really amazed by all of the options for homeschooling that are available today.

      1990 is a good year!

      Reply
  6. anonymous

    I always struggle when I see Covenant Eyes recommend. It’s so, so easy to get around and does not do the job if your husband or tech savvy kids has an addiction problem. It provides a false sense of security for parents or a partner as it’s very easy to hack and work around. It may be useful for very young children, but beyond that it’s not worth it.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      I had this happen to with my ex. I think the key is that a filter is great for a person who doesn’t want to watch porn. If they really, really want to do it, they will find a way. In that case, you will have to decide if you can live with that or if you will need to separate.

      Reply
  7. Nathan

    And I agree with Arwen above. No age is too early to put a filter on your digital technology. It’s a good idea even if the baby hasn’t been born yet. It’s a good idea even if you don’t have kids.

    Reply
  8. A Dishwasher

    The secondary school one of my children is at has put a lot of effort into developing their internet devices usage policy. They have said they expect the parent to take devices away from the children to check every evening after school and that the parent has the device to charge overnight before giving it back in the morning for use at school. They have said they want the parents to review the use of the device during each day, they say — ‘this is not being a bad parent, it’s being a good parent’ and it’s a simple policy which has several benefits for the children. Taking the device away in the evening also ensures children don’t have access to the device in the evening when they should be away from screens (ideally 2+ hours before bedtime so the screen light doesn’t interfere with melatonin production helping them become sleepy).

    We also decided as a family policy to have a setup at home so our family desktop is in the corner of the lounge, and the only tv is there too, so family use of the computer and tv is visible to us all. We have some mobile devices such as tablet and a dvd player we use only for long car journeys but those are not generally for use in the house. This is another simple thing to help keep internet use public and safer as well as the kind of guardian programmes that help keep children from accidental exposures.

    Reply

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