Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No Jew Should Use Unfiltered Internet - The Filter I Use & Recommend is Web Chaver

Enjoy the video above recently created by Web Chaver, an Internet accountability and filtering company. It's cute and definitely a lot more useful than some recent filter advertisements.
It's been a while since I wrote about the self-evident fact that no Jew should use or permit his or her children to use unfiltered Internet here and here. While Internet did not exist in the time of chazal so there is no halachic prohibition of yichud (seclusion) with a computer/Internet-capable device, it is clear that using the Internet without people seeing, accountability software, or a filter is significantly more spiritually dangerous than being alone with a woman other than one's wife. That being said, no system is perfect, even the one I use, and there will always be ways to bypass an Internet filter so the real issue and real solution is to install the Yiras Shomayim Filter.

As an update on what I recommend in terms of an Internet filter, I have been using Web Chaver since January 2010. They offer a buddy system and a filter; and I definitely believe it's best to use both. They also offer filters which you can install on your Apple or Android devices. As part of the "buddy system," my buddy gets a weekly email of any questionable sites I may have visited on any of my computers that week so this "accountability" aspect helps in terms of self-control, recognizing that if I look at something I shouldn't, my friend, who I greatly respect and in front of whom I want to look good, will know about it and ask me about it. If it's totally innocent, I can just explain it to him. We work very well together in this regard. :-) See also the right sidebar where I've placed a permanent logo for Web Chaver so even if you forget the name of the company I'm writing about, you can click on that logo at any time to find their site. 

Web Chaver also has a filter, so I use that too both for my own benefit and as an added protection for my kids if they end up using the computer without mine or my wife's knowledge or supervision. There are also free filters available, like K-9, but I stopped using these for reasons that I no longer remember for certain. Perhaps it was the ability to have real customer service. I don't want to end up in a situation where I'm frustrated with my inability to access the Internet normally because of the filter and then I'm motivated to just uninstall it, which would leave me without protection.

The best way to do the accountability software and filter is to have your "buddy" choose the password and have exclusive control over it so one doesn't have access to that in a weak moment. I personally don't do that yet though because if one uninstalls the filter/accountability software from any computer, it sends an immediate message to my "buddy" so one still has some accountability in that situation.

I mentioned kids before. My wife and my first focus is trying to teach about and model positive, thoughtful, and responsible use of technology and Internet.  That goes along with modeling, encouraging, and facilitating a life in which we and they look forward to and find our enjoyment and pleasure in Torah, mitzvos, and all sorts of wholesome activities. The kids will have to choose how they use technology/the Internet on their own at some point in their lives so it would be completely negligent if we simply banned it without doing our best to give them the tools, knowledge, and inclination that will set them up for success when that time comes.  
With all of that said, none of our kids have yet reached an age where independent use of technology or the Internet is necessary or advisable. Therefore, our personal policy for all of our kids, since our  home computer does have Internet on it, is four-fold: (i) all computers/Internet-capable devices are password protected and they all lock up after a couple of minutes of inactivity; (ii) we do not let any of our children (even/especially our 9th grade daughter) use the computer or an Internet-capable device (even just the word processor) unsupervised or without one of us around; (iii) even if they do get on the computer somehow without us knowing, it's filtered; and (iv) even if somehow they do view something inappropriate, both my buddy and I will get the regular weekly report email showing any questionable sites visited on my computer. It's not a perfect system but B"H it's working so far.
The purpose of sharing all of this advice and information about what we're doing is to hopefully give over something that may be helpful to you or remind/encourage you to either get a filter and/or buddy system software for your computers/devices or to close up any gaps if you have any computers or devices which are not yet protected.
Hatzlacha raba to everyone in this nisayon of the generation and may we merit first and foremost to install the Yiras Shomayim Filter!

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Marc said...

Apple's new iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad has new built in blocking and whitelisting of sites. Everyone who has a Apple device should update there phone and set at a minimum to block adult content. Its free and you can still use Safari. Have your wife/buddy/friend set the password.

Australian internet service provider said...

We all should observe responsible internet use.