If your partner is recovering from sex, porn, love, or chemsex addiction, it’s likely that he or she will need guidance and assistance with his or her use of digital devices—laptops, phones, pads, tablets, etc. Once upon a time, your partner 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 your partner fight tech-temptations.
These products are generally referred to as “parental control” softwares because they were developed as a way to protect kids from inappropriate and/or unwanted content and contacts. Over the years, as these products have become much more sophisticated and adaptable, they have become equally useful for adults who struggle with online behaviors—not just sex, but spending, gambling, gaming, social media, etc.
If your partner has ever used a digital device as part of his or her addiction, installing one of these products is a must. Ideally, your partner’s 12-step sexual recovery sponsor or some other accountability partner will help your partner install the software, keeping the password to prevent your partner from unilaterally deciding to change the settings or uninstall the product. For a variety of reasons, it is not recommended that you serve as your partner’s accountability buddy.
As you and your partner shop for a protective software, it’s important to understand that, for purposes of sexual recovery, some products are better than others. Features that you and your partner should look for include:
- Customizable Filtering and Blocking. Most products have built-in 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 black-listing of things that would normally be allowed and white-listing 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 that your partner utilizes should monitor his or her digital activity and report on that to his or her accountability partner.
- Time Management. Time management features control when and for how long your partner can use his or her digital devices.
- Ease of Use. Protective software products should be easy to install and to customize. Ideally, your partner should be able to globally configure the software, establishing settings on all his or her devices simultaneously.
- Compatibility. It is important to make sure a product works on all your partner’s devices before purchasing it. It is also important to know how many devices the license covers, as you’ll want to cover all your partner’s equipment with only one license.
For sexual recovery, the best protective software options are as follows:
- 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 partner’s 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 partner’s 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 on 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 partner’s specific needs. The primary drawback here is cost.
Once again, for maximum effectiveness, it is important that your partner ask his or her 12-step sexual recovery sponsor or some other accountability partner (that isn’t you) to install the protective software and keep the passwords. Otherwise, your partner may be tempted to change the settings or to uninstall the product altogether. Plus, this is the individual who will receive your partner’s accountability reports, and it’s wise to involve that person right from the start.