For sex addicts, the Internet is a dangerous place, providing instant and seemingly endless access to pornography, prostitutes, casual/anonymous sex partners, emotional affairs, and more. For this reason, anyone hoping to recover from sexual addiction absolutely must install a parental control software program onto his or her computer, laptop, smart-phone, and other Internet accessible devices.
But how does one choose the best product?
First and foremost, the software should include a customizable Internet filter. Most products offer various preset filtering levels, and the best products allow for the blacklisting and whitelisting of certain sites – meaning sites that would normally be allowed at a certain preset filtering level can be manually blocked (blacklisted), and sites that would normally be blocked can be manually unblocked (whitelisted). The software should also include some sort of accountability function, meaning an accountability partner is notified of the user’s online travels, including websites visited, attempts to visit blocked websites, chat-room activities, IM conversations, GPS location (on mobile devices), and time of usage (both when and for how long). The accountability feature should be customizable, meaning the accountability partner can get daily reports, weekly reports, monthly reports, on demand reports, and even instant notification if the addict uses or attempts to use the Internet in a proscribed way. The most highly regarded programs from the standpoint of sexual addiction recovery are:
- Net Nanny, //www.netnanny.com/: works on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS
- AVG Family Safety, //www.avg.com/us-en/avg-family-safety: works on Windows, Android, iOS
- CovenantEyes, //www.covenanteyes.com/: works on Windows, MacOS (limited), Android, iOS (limited)
- McAfee Family Protection, //home.mcafee.com/store/family-protection, works on Windows and Android
- Norton Online Family Premier, //us.norton.com/norton-family-premier/?inid=us_hho_topnav_pd_family_premiere: works on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS
Always check the software publisher’s website to make sure their product is appropriate for your computer, laptop, smart-phone, and other mobile devices. It doesn’t matter how great a program’s features are if it doesn’t function on your equipment. Also check to see how many devices (and what types of devices) the license covers. Most people need protection on a home computer, a laptop, and a smart-phone, and it’s nice if that can be accomplished with the purchase of only one license. And remember, even the best Internet filtering software is not perfect. A resourceful sex addict can eventually find ways to access whatever it is that he or she is looking for. As such, parental control software programs should not be viewed as enforcers of recovery, they should instead be looked at as tools of recovery that can help an addict maintain sobriety (through the filtering features) and rebuild trust with a spouse or partner (through the accountability features).