Keep it Clean Online

By Jeffrey Bridgman

Technology is such a powerful tool—and it can be used for good or bad. And in the battle for personal purity, technology can be a friend, like providing access to resources such as these, or a foe. Activities like sex chat and looking at pornography are too easy to get away with from the privacy of your PC. No one will ever know, right? But the consequences of those choices affect not only us, but our walk with God, as well as our relationships with those around us. That’s why it is so important to take all the necessary steps to win this battle.
Here are some tools to help us win that fight. Even if you are not currently tempted by porn on the Web, take proactive measures to make sure it doesn’t catch you off guard, since so many ads and searches contain pornographic images that can plant a seed that, in time, becomes a thicket.
There are several accountability/filtering software packages that are quite popular, particularly with Christian families. However, only one is both really good and free: K9 Web Protection. The company that makes it is a technology leader in application delivery networking (huh?), and developed K9 as a freebie to get good press and give back to the community. Works for me!
Here are some other products that have a variety of features and price ranges.
Safe Eyes is a fairly comprehensive package. $50/year subscription.
Covenant Eyes has an accountability and filtering program that can be purchased separately. The accountability aspect tracks all the websites visited, sending a report to an accountability partner. The filtering aspect allows us to set up time constraints, block protocols, create a custom block/allow list and change sensitivity settings for multiple users. Prices start at $4.99 for filtering, $8.99 for accountability, or $10.49 for both. Adding another user is fairly cheap.
x3watch also has a free version, but it doesn’t filter any content. It just sends an accountability report to someone of your choosing. Although it can be turned off, our trusted friend, or friends, will know, so we won’t get away with it. The pro version for $7/month also includes filtering and real-time text message alerts to accountability partners to keep us from going very far down the wrong path.
Beyond those listed above, there are so many other options out there—too many to document here. For a better idea, let me describe my own setup. I wanted something cheap and free, so I went with x3watch to provide basic accountability. Aside from that, since I use Firefox as my main web browser, I chose Foxfilter to filter content. It also allows to me to create a custom list of keywords or websites, so I can target particular trouble areas for me. For the password, I chose something ridiculously long to enter, like every 6th letter from a Bible verse about purity. Another good option is to have a trusted friend set the password. I also have AdBlock Plus installed. This only blocks advertising in general, but it helps keep the clutter down and has the added advantage of blocking any advertisements that might trigger sinful thoughts and desires.
Time management is where the battle can be lost or won. If we are busy doing something positive, we’re a lot safer than if we are isolated, just wasting time on the Internet. Here are some cool programs to help us stay on task and keep our hands from becoming idle online.
Freedom is an app that turns off the Internet for a certain amount of time. Once the timer is set we have to wait to get our Internet back. Here’s a scenario where it might be useful. Imagine you have an essay you need to write and have to stay up late working on it alone. By setting the timer for a specific amount of time, it’ll keep you away from everything ranging from pornography to distracting YouTube videos so you can focus on getting that paper done. Or, if you have a certain troublesome time of day, like lunch time or the evenings, use these tools to block your Internet access and pre-empt temptation. Get a free trial or purchase for only $10. A similar application for Macs called Anti-Social blocks just the social networking part of the Internet. Another Mac application called Self-Control has a timer that can’t even be reset by rebooting the computer!
pomodoro is a Mac app that follows the Pomodoro Technique™ for time management. The basic idea is 25 minutes of work, then a five-minute break. This can help us stay focused on tasks that need to be done, rather than aimlessly wasting time. And if we do get off track, the alarm at the end of the 25-minute period can remind us of what we should be doing.
Tools aren’t useful unless we are ready to fight. We should have a battle plan in place and make decisions to avoid areas which might be tempting because it is far too easy to give in. Here are a few good passages to fill up our minds, so there won’t be much room for filth: Galatians 5:13, I Thessalonians 4:3-8, II Timothy 2:22. With this biblical foundation, using applications such as those above can help us stand our ground in the fight for purity.

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