(LifeSiteNews) — On this week’s episode of The Van Maren Show, Jonathon sits down with Ron DeHaas, founder and CEO of Covenant Eyes, to discuss the changes in combating pornography addiction since the company’s inception in 2000.
DeHaas recalls that he wanted something for his children so that they wouldn’t be able to access pornography, though he was wary of filters because they can be easily overstepped and don’t teach users how to use the internet “respectfully and properly.”
Asking a tech-savvy co-worker to hold him accountable for what he viewed on the internet, the friend typed a program into DeHaas’ computer in the span of five minutes. Three days later, the friend presented DeHaas with a list of all the websites he visited over the course of those three days. Seeing the benefit of the program, DeHaas told the friend that what happened “might be the start of a business.”
“The mission of beating pornography in people’s lives who are struggling with pornography, that’s the… heart of what we do now,” DeHaas says. “It’s people who are struggling with pornography able to turn to someone who loves them and ask them, ‘Hey, will you keep me accountable on the internet, on what I’m doing?’”
“It works for parents to keep their kids accountable, but the vast majority of our members are people who struggle with pornography… really of all ages,” he adds.
While the initial program analyzed words in URL source codes, problems arose when websites began using secure connections and increased linking to other websites. Along with the introduction of the smartphone, DeHaas began noticing issues with Covenant Eyes’ method.
“By 2012, I recognized that, ‘Boy, the house is on fire, we’re not going to be able to do this very much longer,” DeHaas remembers. It was at that point that DeHaas began researching how to monitor what appeared on screens rather than analyzing what appeared in URL source codes, noting that a benefit of such an approach to combating pornography is that “it could be a picture that you take with your camera” and “not just internet… pornography.”
Explaining how Covenant Eyes changed its program, DeHaas tells Jonathon that in 2015, the technology behind image recognition software became a reality, with Covenant Eyes hiring an expert in that field. By 2018, Covenant Eyes had a program that could analyze what was on a screen and send a report to users, and the following year that program became the only downloadable program on the website.
While explaining how the new system works, DeHaas warns about the dangers of smartphones for children.
“Parents have to realize that when they allow their… kids to have a phone in their pockets without very close monitoring, at least, and to let them take their… phones into their bedroom at night… they’re allowing… pornography to be the sex education for their kids,” DeHaas says. He further states that while parental controls can be put on phones, he maintains that they can be “cumbersome” to set up and keep track of.
Later in the episode, DeHaas addresses potential issues with parents having tech-savvy children who could find a way to circumvent Covenant Eyes’ program.
DeHaas begins by noting that Covenant Eyes “encourages the parent to be more proactive,” and that the report Covenant Eyes sends parents will be able to identify issues arising when children attempt to circumvent it. “Even if they find ways of circumventing, eventually they are going to get caught,” DeHaas states.
While DeHaas acknowledges that some children may circumvent the program, the way it is constructed is sufficient to make the child wonder if he is being monitored. He also acknowledges that a child can circumvent the program by going to a friend’s house and using a friend’s phone.
DeHaas explains that accountability is the “key.”
“It has to be someone who receives the report, who really loves you and cares about you and is willing to follow up with you and say, ‘You know, okay, I got this report, it looks good, but tell me, how are you doing in your heart, what’s going on within you?’” DeHaas notes, adding that the report “builds a relationship.”
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