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Covenant Eyes review 2019: what comes of the symbiosis of technology and a human factor?

Covenant Eyes review: what comes of the symbiosis of technology and a human factor?

That is actually the very concept of Covenant Eyes service. Moreover, this fact makes the app unique on the monitoring market. Let’s find out whether it has the potential to help 40 million Americans, being sexually involved in some dubious activity on the Internet, to break free.

The porn industry set off to bombard Internet users with relevant pop-ups and aimed at taking mainstream channels, according to the statistics provided by Enough Is Enough (NGO which strives to make the Internet safer for children and families).

More than 4 in 10 (or 43%) U.S. citizens say that pornography is morally tolerable. The USA is the number one producer and exporter of rampant pornographic DVDs and web content.

Nowadays, the majority of porn sites are free. Thus, sites’ traffic is enormous: Mindgeek tube sites obtain 100 million visitors on a daily basis (the Economist, 2015). In 2016, PornHub, a porn provider and reportedly a stronghold on the relevant market, streamed 75 GB of data which is equal to 87.8 billion views. In 2014, the Huffington Post cited that porn sites were getting more visitors monthly than Twitter, Amazon, and Netflix combined.

In February 2018, Esquire Magazine had the article under the title “Incest is the Fastest Growing Trend in Porn” which depicts the true face of the porn. Americans’ strive for porn is “evolving” – more and more prefer pornography with an underage person involved. In a nutshell, people tend to get addicted and those who find it unacceptable, look for solutions. This is where technology comes in handy.

The concept of Covenant Eyes: does it really work?

The developer claims it to be an Internet Accountability service whose mission is to help deal with porn addiction thanks to the monitoring of online activity and accountability to someone trusted. This combination promises breaking free from the addiction. That way, there is an Accountability Report which is sent to a close person invited as an Accountability Partner. The Report retains the number of sites one has visited.

The team calls for “the power of relationships” since a confidant after receiving the data can help get over the problem.

Is Covenant Eyes a stronghold on the monitoring marker in the light of fight against porn?
They definitely declared war against the porn addiction. Besides providing some tech solution, they raise awareness about the problem and create products of additional values such as ebooks.
On February 12, 2018, they promised to release a free one under the title “Recovered” with real cases, scientific basis, and practical approaches. The book is based on the sobering data from Your Brain on Porn site. To keep it short, dozens of studies demonstrate that the porn addiction aggravates the mental and emotional health, cognitive outcomes, and contributes to poorer academic achievements, relationships, sexist attitudes, viewing people as objects, sexual violence, panic attacks, and anxiety, etc.

Covenant Eyes definitely has an impressive background to offer its flagship product. It takes a particular niche on the monitoring market.

The check-list for people with “monitoring” needs, or will Covenant Eyes satisfy all the needs?

  • Can I monitor the target person’s calls? – No

    Calls speak volume about somebody’s communication. Of course, all depends on the current needs, but this opportunity is compelling and insightful to people with “monitoring” needs. Make sure you do not need it.

  • Can I restrict calls from certain people? – No

    If you need to manage particular people reaching out to your significant other, you won’t be able to do it with Covenant Eyes but with any other tracking software or parental control.

  • Can I view SMS? – No

    Users cannot see who’s writing and what’s written. Meanwhile, it’s a powerful communication channel, which is informative as well.

  • Can I see chatting via instant messengers? – No

    Viber, WhatsApp, Line, Telegram is an integral part of human interaction nowadays. The fact of it not being monitored is a considerable drawback of any tracking application.

  • Can I track the GPS location? – No

    The GPS system is usually inbuilt into the app’s functionality. Pinpointing the device’s location helps out. Parents, partners, employers find it necessary. Make sure you don’t really need this.

  • Can I set up geo-fences? – No

    Geo-fencing is a feature proper to most tracking full-fledged applications. Covenant Eyes is not a location-oriented app. Learn whether it’s not a finding for your family.

  • Can I view installed apps on the target device? – No

    It’s not Covenant Eyes’ prerogative. It’s possible to view platforms which were visited as a result of leading to the applications. This feature is helpful for managing screen time.

  • Can I monitor keystrokes? – No

    Keystrokes are super enlightening. They literally translate what’s in another person’s mind. However, Covenant Eyes does not contain it.

  • Can I receive keyword alerts? – No

    Like Keylogger, this feature is not available. It works in the following way: a user sets up a specific word or phrase they want to track, and the system informs them when a target person types it.

  • Can I view an online activity? – Yes

    Covenant Eyes’ assets are providing the whole picture of someone’s Internet use and what you’re going to do about it. Its conception of the support system is effective. However, one should determine if porn or Internet addiction is the only issue.

Accountability is the key to addiction recovery.

Any rehab center’s conception includes accountability to someone you trust and who can help deal with addiction urges. This person is usually mentally and psychologically stronger and, in most cases, has been through the same. So, he or she knows the whole stuff. In addiction centers, they inserted check-ups. It’s highly important to have regular check-ups with a mental health professional. To make sure, an addict is progressing in their recovery and staying on course, an accountability is a must.

The fact that Covenant Eyes embodied this conception makes it stand out among many similar apps. However, if in rehab centers trusted people are usually pros in the field, Covenant Eyes might not have an expected effect.

How does it work technically?

First, a user needs to sign up for Covenant Eyes and then have it set up on the device. To install Covenant Eyes to all your devices, there’s no need to do it on all of them. Whatever the device is, it’s always possible to view an online activity in a single report. It’s possible to download the service to a computer from an online account. Other platforms that provide the installation settings are App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon app store. It is compatible with Windows and Mac computers, iPhone, iPad, and iPod, and Android devices.

How can you be sure that the installation was done correctly? After it, any device should contain an eye icon. For example, a Windows PC will have it in the bottom right-hand corner; on a Mac, it will be visible in the menu bar; on iOS and Android devices, it is situated somewhere on a home screen.

To make accountability practical, the next step is to add new users to your account. Every user will have their own report on the Internet use. That way, every monitored person may have their report.

Another reason to create extra usernames in one account is to set up filters customized for every concrete person.

There are three options with the opportunity to add additional users: Personal Account, Family Account, and Group Account. You can switch from one to another with fees changes respectively. For your information, for Family Account’s users, the cost is included in a monthly or annual subscription. For Personal and Group Account’s ones, the price of every extra user is $3.50.

To add users, you need to log in your online account and go to the Add User page. After filling out all the necessary information the system asks, you need to select what kind of permission you grant to a new user – Accountability or Accountability and Filtering. The final step is to click the “Add User” button.

Filters narrow down your online exposure to porn.

To set up the filter, parents don’t have to be tech-savvy. The system examines web pages in the light of their content and then rates each page according to the age (T for teens and M for mature). This filter is well customized. So, it can meet every specific need. For example, an adult wouldn’t want to be subdued to a filter suitable for a 10-year-old.

Users have at least five filters’ alternatives. Let’s overview each of them.

  • Filter Guardians. Every customer has the right to a private Filter Guardian. The Account Administrator functions automatically as the Filter Guardian for every user. Meanwhile, the Account Administrator needs the guardian aka an accountability partner as well.

    In My Account, there’s “Manage Users”. By clicking on the gear next to the name, you pick a user. Click the “Filtering” tab. There, you need to select “Guardians” to invite a Filter Guardian. You can delegate to another user from the account or even invite someone outside it be indicating a new email. After all the steps, pick “Save”.

    If you’re not willing to be a Filter Guardian on your account, you can add another person to be so. Or, a user already inserted into the system might exercise the role of a Filter Guardian.

  • Lists “Block” and “Allow”. The app is well-tailored to customers’ needs. They can either prohibit or permit visiting particular sites. For example, if you decided that Twitter was convenient for your child, you can put its website to the Allow list. Or, you can add this site to the “Block” list. If you want to find out these lists, look for Filtering.

    To add a site, you need to indicate its URL by clicking “Add to List”. To remove a site, it’s necessary to check the boxes next to the URL and click “Remove Selected”. For a Filter User, it makes sense to go to My Profile and indicate URLs in the Blocked Sites category and click “Add Site”.

  • Filter sensitivity level. Filters are set up to comply with the age of the user. That way, if the filter is very sensitive, the user will face many prohibited pages and vice versa. There’s so-called the web rating system, which decides the appropriateness of a certain content for an age. Covenant Eyes scans every visited site and provides the Accountability report with the most fitting ones or the entire list.

    The filter depends on the very needs of the user. If the Filter Guardian doesn’t approve specific sites, they will be blocked. This option is called “Allow List Only”.

    If the Level is with E, it will let E-websites be accessible and any other blocked.

    The same principle works for the Y level, which means websites assessed as Y and lower are allowed. There are also T-level, MT-level, M-level, which operates under the similar scheme.

When you’re in My Account and found Manage Users, you’ll be asked to pick the filter for every particular user. In Filtering, select the filter that is the most convenient for you and don’t forget clicking Save Settings.

  • Blocked Times of Day. Unfortunately, this option is not available for mobile devices. Obviously, it allows managing the time which defines when going online is permitted. Under the Filtering tab, you can pick Blocked Times for a particular user. After that, you can pick time restrictions. After all the modifications, it’s necessary to click Add Rule. Rules can be edited or removed.
  • YouTube Restricted Mode. If you use an Android or iOS device, this option is available for you. It puts limits on YouTube videos via all browsers and the application itself. The YouTube Restricted box is located in Manage Users. You enable it by checking the box.

To sum up, the Filters system is very powerful in the realities of the Internet full of a lewd content.

A partnership is the main factor of success in the fight against the porn addiction.

To make the whole thing work, it’s important to pick your partner. This is the main pillar of the app’s work. They receive Accountability Reports. The program also suggests not just getting but reading them as well. The question always pops up whom I can entrust all those intimate things. Apparently, it has to be a reliable and responsible person. Some recommend relatives, parents, partners.

Before picking an Accountability Partner, make sure you see a clear difference between an Account Administrator, a Filter Guardian, and an Accountability Partner. They all exercise diverse roles. One person can be all of them or these functions are distributed among other people.

An Account Administrator is responsible for the whole account and usually being chosen when registering. This person is empowered to do the following: download the application, renew the billing information, involve users and assign Accountability Partners, Filter Guardians, create codes, etc.

An Accountability Partner might be chosen by an Accountability User or an Account Administrator. This person receives Reports and discusses them with the user. This is actually how the “healing” from porn happens.

A user or an Account Administrator also assigns a Filter Guardian. They also set up filters according to the rating system. They allow or prohibit sites, limit the time of online surfing, including YouTube.

After getting the consent, you can involve an accountability partner by sending an invitation to their email via your account in the system.

To add an Accountability Partner, access My Account and find Partners in the Accountability section. The next step is to pick people who will receive your reports by clicking Invite a partner under People Who Receive Your Reports. Also, indicate that person’s email address and set up the type of filters (e.g., M or T). Your partner has to accept the invitation. In “My Partners”, it’s possible to resend the invitation if the previous one was not sent successfully.

If a person is already inside the system and you want them to receive your reports, you can pick them from “Select a User” and then select a Sensitivity Level.

If you feel like changing an Accountability Partner and choosing a new one, you can remove the previous one by clicking “Remove Partner”.

Covenant Eyes also allows customizing the Report. It’s possible to make modifications: demonstrate or hide a certain information, and set up the frequency of the reports that are delivered to an Accountability partner. In the My Account section, there’s Partners in the drop-down. There, you can make individual changes for each person.

Users can generate Accountability Reports that include the data collected for 30 days. When users visit websites, it takes a few up to 24 hours for the system to evaluate them before displaying the data on an Accountability Report.

There are two options to do it: to receive an email report and make it online.

Every seven days, Accountability partners receive Reports, but it’s always possible to change the frequency. In the Manage Users section, there’s the gear icon of the user whose Report settings are allowed to change. In “Report Settings”, find “Report Frequency” and adjust it to a pace you need.

If a user wants to get their reports, they can do it from “My Profile”. In front of “Partners” pick their username. Also, it’s necessary to indicate a sensitivity level and save the modifications.

The second option is to create Reports online. To do this, just log in to your online account and choose “View Reports”. Pick a user whose Reports you’d like to read. You can customize it by choosing the sensitivity level. The final movement is to click “Generate Report”.

It’s noteworthy that this kind of reports only demonstrates sites selected by an established rating system (Report Sensitivity Level). But if you want the whole online activity for a particular term, find “View Reports” in your account. Choose a user and pick “Detailed Browsing Log” under Report Types. For the record, the Detailed Browsing Log suggests a complete list of all web destinations, including days, time, and ratings. Partners can access a Detailed Log in the Reports part of their online account.

To view a Sample Report, go to the Covenant Eye’s official page to check out what kind of content you potentially will see. They continuously work on Reports making them more transparent and more helpful. The recent change (August 2018) showed that the developers listened up to customers.

From now on, they promise to provide three main types of information: Incidents, Device Types Reporting, and Items for Review. There are also Reports Dashboard and Timeline View.
Incidents translate when a user hit a Highly Mature content. The Report only shows a search term or a visited website. It’s only by clicking their link that a user can access the Incidents in the Reports Dashboard.

Other content demonstrates the list of visited web pages that are not marked as explicit but were assessed by the Report Sensitivity Level. A user can only see ten items. The Dashboard contains the same items and also delivers the time of the last entry and some details about a device. The Detailed Browsing Log is included as well.

Device Types Reporting translates the number of used devices and the information about operating systems of each.

If you want to dive deeper into the way somebody uses the Internet, now it became possible with the Reports Dashboard. You can view timelines of particular online surfing.

Obviously, when using the program, different questions pop up. For example, customers want to know when they get the first report. Usually, they get it the next day after agreeing to be a Partner. There’s also the possibility to modify the frequency of reports. Make sure you set up a proper time zone to avoid discrepancies in Reports.

Sometimes, users get reports with the note “Device Activity Missing”. Things can turn out that users were getting around the program due to different reasons. Users must have not used their username to go online for the period of the Report being collected. Or, the user must have accessed under another username. Another case scenario is using the device without Covenant Eyes installed on it.

Is using the program enough?

It’s not sufficient to use the application and to be accountable – there’s a strong need for having Internet conversations. For example, caregivers should be interested in tips for parents to hold kids accountable. Here’s what Covenant Eyes recommends.

  • Make it clear for your child why there’s a need for using Covenant Eyes. Do not expect kids to understand “by default” all the things you do just because you live together. Explain all your “whys” and the purpose of using the program. Communicate the idea and the importance of being accountable.
  • Be stable discussing the role of Reports. Be open about what kind of information you want to view in Reports. After reading the report on your own, find time to discuss it with your child. Talk in details what sites they visited. Discuss their nature and usefulness.
  • Monitor the Detailed Browsing Logs, find out particular sites that were subject of interest to your child. Identify some recurrence and get back to those sites to check their content. Talk about them as well.
  • To enlighten parents about a decent digital behavior their children must have, Covenant Eyes released an eBook “Parenting, the Internet Generation”. It provides actionable tips on how to lead these conversations.
  • Keep up with their interests online. Follow them on social media, read posts and comments, look through photos and videos. This will help be aware of what they are into and provide tangible insights.
  • Be a role model. At some age, kid’s mimic parents’ attitudes and behaviors. So, to make them accountable, show you’re accountable as well. If you have an Accountability Partner, show the reports as evidence to your child.
  • Discuss the risks of the Internet. These are cyberbullying, child grooming, online predators, porn, etc.

Should parents discuss porn with kids?

Researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire say that 93% of boys and 62% of girls hit at least once the porn material during their adolescence.

Dr. Finkelhor, a director of the Family Research Lab and the author of books about child abuse, strongly recommends educating and instructing kids not just about sex but about online pornography in all its expressions.

Experts say that it’s reasonable to introduce the subject of porn when dwelling on the sex in general. This way, you’ll show the difference between appropriate and inappropriate things. Your goal is not to make kids feel bad but help them navigate between destructive and natural things. Do not cause the feeling of shame. Next time, when facing sex and porn-related information, kids won’t address you as the primary source of information. Don’t make them feel like perverts!

My kid watched porn for the first time: what to do?

The primary thing is to comprehend that the parents’ first reaction is crucial. It shouldn’t be judgmental. Otherwise, they will get isolated and will never open up again. The Covenant Eyes team suggests making a sort of patterns beforehand. Do not blame or, worse, yell. Express unconditional love and acceptance.

The next step is to “appreciate” that the child has confessed. Do not lecture. The kid pooled all the efforts to admit. So, let them know you appreciate this sincerity.

Initiate the conversation when you see the moment is right for that. Or, shelve it but do not procrastinate.

Talk to your family therapist or pastor about the most effective way to talk on the subject.

To go further with the subject, let’s regard tips for accountability users to help their accountability partners, kindly provided by Covenant Eyes.

The difference between the kid-parent and adult-adult accountability is that the latter’s type suggests a clear understanding of the purpose. Adults, when facing the problem, do not play games and waste their time. Therefore, before getting started with the program, make sure you both realize clearly what it is all about.

Establish the settings in a way to receive your reports. When an Accountability Partner initiates the conversation, they have a background for that. Make sure you have yours as well. To make it run smooth, share the same material to lean on.

Schedule regular conversations. Since you know the frequency of Reports coming to your email, you are already able to have recurrent meetings to discuss things. This will definitely help progress in relationships and in the program, itself.

Sometimes, when triggers hit, the temptations are stronger than willpower. In this case, get in terms with your Accountability Partner that you can call outside the appointed time. The partner should understand that aid means being there for a person when they need it most.

The third type of tips is the ones for accountability partners on holding friends accountable. Covenant Eyes created a sort of chart to check how good you are as an Accountability Partner. Here are its points:

  • Scan the report. Try to identify what kind of content is the most “triggering” and threatening for sanity. Focus on the sites that users are the most worried about. Social media can also make an addiction progress.
  • Uplift and inspire to continue and to overcome the addiction. Give your feedback, even if everything looks good and an accountable person is progressing.

    If there were incidents, first, talk about them openly. Discuss factors that lead to them. Map out together the ways out. Crack up a plan and stick to it. Try to be always available when your friend needs you in order to overcome the struggle. Squeeze the plan into baby steps and celebrate every single victory.

  • Pump up some crucial skills that will positively impact on the course. For example, mastering self- discipline in some other irrelevant things may lead to intensifying digital and online self-mastery.

Summing up…

When a household faces the problem of the porn addiction, Covenant Eyes might be a way out. It’s powerful in terms of filtering. They also provide some advisory on what to do with this information. Moreover, it’s possible to practically regulate the accessibility of the content by blocking sites, etc.

The program involves a human factor and helps understand the purpose and the role of each person, involved in the process.

But if you need a tool oriented on monitoring devices, the Internet activity, installed apps, peculiarities such as Keylogger, the best advice is to look for another application.

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Samantha, mom of 4 children
Samantha, mom of 4 children
October 23, 2018 2:02 pm

I pick this app because my partner has got into the trap of porn addiction. To help him, I’ve decided to be his accountability person, the one who gets reports in case he watched porn. First, it was weird, then we got used to it. I have to admit it was not easy for me to realize that he had other women in his head. But, software turned out to be helpful. We started attending specialized groups at our local church. I think this combination helped us have some healing in our relationships. The work is still in progress, but… Read more »

Monica, mom of a teen boy
Monica, mom of a teen boy
October 25, 2018 10:00 am

I caught my son in watching porn. I was shocked. A friend of mine, also a mom, advised me to use this app. She filters sites and then decides which one to block. So do I from that time. Have to say it works. Of course, I tackled the issue with my kid but still decided to continue using the app for a while. Also, I turned to our family therapist because I really do not know how to handle this situation on my own. However, it was hard to figure out its functionality ‘cause there are so many terms… Read more »

October 26, 2018 2:04 pm

I became an accountability friend for my brother. He opened up about his problem, and I feel like I have to help. I think people shouldn’t be judgmental in such cases. So, my responsibility is to check reports, discuss the issue, support him, and block sites ‘cause the program enabled me to do it. Cannot comment right now if it’s that helpful as it claims. At least we try to get over it.

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