If one of your clients 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, you might have advised this individual 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 client fight his or her tech-temptations.
Typically, these products are referred to as “parental control” softwares because they were developed to protect kids from unwanted and inappropriate content and people. Over the years, as these products have become much more sophisticated and adaptable, they have become equally useful for adults who find themselves struggling with online behaviors—not just sex, but spending, gambling, gaming, social media, etc.
If your client has ever used a digital device as part of his or her addiction, installing one of these products is a must. Ideally, the client’s 12-step sexual recovery sponsor or some other accountability partner will help install the software, keeping the password to prevent your client from unilaterally deciding to change the settings or uninstall the product. For a variety of reasons, it is not recommended that the addict’s spouse serve as this accountability partner. If necessary, you can step in and fill this role temporarily, until the addict finds a sponsor or friend in recovery to take over.
For purposes of sexual recovery, some products are better than others. Features that your client 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 client 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 client can use his or her digital devices.
- Ease of Use. Protective software products should be easy to install and to customize. Ideally, your client 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 client’s devices before he or she purchases it. It is also important to see how many devices the license covers, as your client will want to cover all of his or her equipment with only one license.
For purposes of sexual recovery, the best protective software options are 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 client’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 client’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 client’s specific needs. The primary drawback here is cost.
Again, for maximum effectiveness, it is important that your client asks his or her 12-step sexual recovery sponsor or some other accountability partner (that isn’t his or her spouse) to install the protective software and keep the passwords. Otherwise, your client may be tempted to change the settings or to uninstall the product altogether. Plus, this is the individual who will receive your client’s accountability reports, and it’s wise to involve that person right from the start.