Configuring devices for wholesome media

How I use a combination of filters and settings to keep media in my home clean.

General

Why?

I avoid pornography and other unwholesome media for both scientific and spiritual reasons. I believe things like pornography alter your brain and spirit in damaging ways. I try to do all I can to keep it out of my home and life.

First defense: internal

The first defense is a good offense. No amount of filters or settings can stop someone from viewing pornography or other unwholesome media if they want to view it. The first step is desire to avoid it and to have good things to replace it with. This comes from understanding why it’s harmful. Internal desire is the most important thing that keeps pornography and other crude media out of my life.

Second defense: filters

Although filters can’t stop someone who wants to view pornography, they can be helpful for avoiding accidentally viewing pornography. The filter options below can be helpful.

Filters for your network

You can add a filter to your network; this is the most useful filter since it affects any device using your internet. I use OpenDNS Family Shield. This protects against adult content. It has some side benefits too; it protects against identity theft via phishing websites (it warns you if a website is fraudulent), and it can speed up your internet since open DNS has 100% uptime, unlike most ISPs.

You just have to make sure you use the “Family Shield” name servers instead of the default ones on your network. The default ones in the instructions block phishing, but “Family Shield” blocks both phishing and pornography.

One thing to note is that, although a network filter is helpful for wifi and ethernet connections, it doesn't affect devices using cellular data (not on your network).

Filters for search engines

Most search engines have a “safety” feature of some sort. For example, Google has the “SafeSearch” option in your preferences, which you can also lock.

Keep in mind that there are hundreds of other search engines other than Google all with their own settings. Also, this does not effect incognito mode or other browser profiles. To ensure safe search is used across all profiles and devices for Google search, SafeSearch VIP needs to be enabled at the network level which only certain networks support. Keep in mind that none of this applies when using a data connection on a mobile device or through a hotspot instead of wifi or a direct ethernet connection.

Filters for browsers

You can configure some browsers. For example, on a Mac, you can disable incognito mode in Chrome by pasting defaults write com.google.chrome IncognitoModeAvailability -integer 1 in the “Terminal” app, hitting enter, and restarting your computer.

Filters for Apple devices

Apple devices have a Restricted Mode that can be enabled to filter out adult content. The nice thing about this is it affects most browsers and apps on iOS (iPhone/iPads), macOS (Macs), and tvOS (Apple TVs) since most of them use Apple Safari and the Restricted mode setting under the hood. However, not all apps and browsers use the standard settings so there are still ways to get around it.

Filters for Android devices

Android device don’t generally have any built-in filtering. There are apps available on the apps store. Having a network level filter in place like OpenDNS Family Shield is a good first step.

Filters for apps

Many apps have filtering options. For example, in YouTube, you can add Restricted Mode Filtering. For Netflix, you can add Rating Controls. In Hulu, you can contact Hulu support to have them set your age below 17 years old, which will disable mature content like TV-MA programs. In Amazon Video, you can add Parental Controls.

Third defense: research

It can be helpful to research media before consuming it. There are many tools available to help with this. One I like for movies is Common Sense Media. It lets you see what type of content is in a movie before watching it to help you avoid uncomfortable situations.

More info

Connect Your Kids is a fantastic free tool for protecting your family. It includes a database of internet safety resources, services, devices, and networks. I recommend going through each of the items your family uses.

Conclusion

I believe that the type of media we use has a large influence on our thoughts and feelings. By avoiding unwholesome media I feel it gives me greater positivity and light in my life. Although using tools like filters and device settings can be helpful to avoid unwholesome media, the most important thing is an internal desire to avoid it.