If you’re recovering from sex, porn, love, or chemsex addiction, it’s likely that you need guidance and assistance with your use of digital devices—laptops, phones, pads, tablets, etc. Once upon a time, you would have been advised to simply stay offline. But that’s just not feasible these days, as digital technology is too integral to modern life to simply turn it off. The good news is that there are some great software products that can help you fight tech-temptations.
Generally, these products are referred to as “parental control” softwares because they were initially developed and marketed to protect kids from inappropriate content and contacts. Over the years, these products have become much more sophisticated and adaptable, and now they are equally useful to adults struggling with online behaviors—not just sex, but spending, gambling, gaming, social media, etc.
If you’ve ever used a digital device as part of your addiction, installing one of these products is highly recommended. Ideally, your 12-step sexual recovery sponsor or some other accountability partner will help you install the software and will keep the password to prevent you from unilaterally deciding to change the settings or to uninstall the product. As you shop for a protective software, it’s important to understand that some products will meet your needs better than others. Features you should look for include:
- Customizable Filtering and Blocking. Most products have preset filtering/blocking levels ranging from settings appropriate for young children to settings appropriate for adults who wish to stay away from certain types of sites, apps, features, and content. The better products also offer customizable filtering, with blacklisting of things that would normally be allowed and whitelisting of things that would normally be blocked.
- Monitoring and Reporting (Accountability). A huge facet of sexual recovery is becoming accountable. Thus, any protective software product you utilize should monitor your digital activity and report on it to your accountability partner (usually your 12-step sponsor, your therapist, or a friend in recovery).
- Time Management. Time management features control when and for how long you can use your digital devices.
- Ease of Use. Protective software products should be easy to install and to customize. Ideally, you should be able to globally configure the software, establishing settings on all your devices simultaneously.
- Compatibility. It is important to make sure a product works on all your devices before you purchase it. It is also important to see how many devices the license covers, as you’ll want to cover all your equipment with only one license.
For recovering sex, porn, love, and chemsex addicts, the best protective software option is usually one of the following:
- Qustodio. Qustodio costs $54.95 per year for up to five devices, $96.95 per year for up to ten devices. It works on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Qustodio offers excellent filtering, blocking, monitoring, reporting, and time management—all of which are easily customized to meet your specific needs. In recent years, Qustodio has become the top-dog for protecting sex, porn, love, and chemsex addicts.
- Net Nanny. Net Nanny costs $39.99 per year for one device, $59.99 per year for up to five devices, $89.99 per year for up to ten devices. It works on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Net Nanny offers quality filtering, blocking, monitoring, and reporting—all of which are easily customized to meet your specific needs. Once upon a time, Net Nanny was the gold standard in protective software, but other products have caught up in recent years.
- WebWatcher. WebWatcher is expensive, $129.95 per year for each digital device. It works on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. WebWatcher’s features are generally on par with the other products on this list. It’s especially good at capturing the content of emails, texts, and IMs. The primary drawback here is cost.
- CovenantEyes. Like WebWatcher, CovenantEyes is relatively expensive. With all the features that recovering sex addicts need, it costs $161.88 per year for each person covered (unlimited devices). CovenantEyes offers quality filtering, blocking, monitoring, and reporting—all of which are easily customized to meet your specific needs. The primary drawback here is cost.
Once again, for maximum effectiveness it is important that you ask your 12-step sexual recovery sponsor or some other accountability partner to install the protective software and keep the passwords. Otherwise, you may be tempted to change the settings or to uninstall the product altogether. Plus, this is the individual who will receive your accountability reports, and it’s wise to involve that person right from the start.