Category Archives: Parents

A VidAngel Review of Covenant Eyes

Message from the VidAngel CEO

 

I met Ron DeHass, CEO of Covenant Eyes,  a month or so back in New York and we realized we have shared missions and became quick friends. Over dinner, we talked our start-up stories. I learned volumes about the people behind his company by learning about Ron’s family story, which was an impetus for his company story.  

 

Ron lost his wife and children unexpectedly when they were hit by a truck after pulling off to the side of a highway. Of course losing his young family was devastating but rather than use insurance money to avoid work for the rest of his life, Ron invested the money into doing something to make the world a better place by building Covenant Eyes, which now employs around 150 people around the country.

 

I can vouch for Ron DeHass’ character and heart and for the good people he has surrounded himself with to build Covenant Eyes. I have included below an excerpt from their company history as well as one VidAngel Team member’s experience using the software.

 

Sincerely,

Neal Harmon

VidAngel CEO

 

About Covenant Eyes

More than a decade ago, Covenant Eyes founder Ron DeHaas faced the same questions many people face today.

  • “How can I teach my children to use the Internet with integrity?”
  • “How do I guard my own heart and remain pure online?”
  • “How do I serve as an example to my family and church?”

 

Realizing the threat the Internet poses without proper monitoring, he invented Internet accountability to equip people to protect themselves and their families from online dangers.

 

Located in Owosso, Michigan, Covenant Eyes is the pioneer of Internet Accountability software, empowering members to maintain their online integrity. Aware of an ever-growing need to better equip parents, Covenant Eyes has developed a family Internet filter that blocks pornography.

 

Over 100,000,000 Covenant Eyes Accountability Reports have generated 16 years of conversation-based accountability. Covenant Eyes is the most significant corporate force in cultural recognition of the public health crisis of pornography and sex trafficking.

 

Review by VidAngel Team member Craig Campbell

Covenant Eyes was easy to love from the get-go. Upon entering their website, I was hit by their profound statement “Your online values should match your offline ones. Break secret habits with Internet Accountability Reports.” With accessibility to inappropriate content easier than ever, it is too common to get caught up in the pleasures of the world. With Covenant Eyes, parents are able to provide the entire family with a safe internet environment that directly reflects the values they keep in the home. No more wondering, no more hovering, no more worries. Covenant Eyes equips parents with their children’s online viewing which leads to regular conversations about Internet usage. This helps train children in how their online behavior impacts their lives offline.

 

How Does Covenant Eyes Work?

Covenant Eyes is so simple to setup and installation was a breeze.

  1. Sign up for the plan that best suits you or your family.
  2. Download the browser and device extension.
  3. Select accountability and/or filtering.
  4. Get an Accountability Partner.
  5. Enjoy fulfilling internet time without the temptation.

 

You download their service and set your parameters and their service does the rest. Websites I knew that would be problems could be blocked and my internet usage was being reported to a trusted friend.

 

What I loved most was the way Covenant Eyes focused on building relationships in conjunction with their service. Covenant Eyes revolves around the principles of accountability. This is done by creating Accountability Partner(s) within their system. Choose a trusted friend in whom you can confide and partner up with on your personal journey towards a better life. The technology provides the structure for your internet accountability and filtering, but that accountability is tied to someone you love and admire. Covenant Eyes provides a path to open up space for difficult conversations and a way in order to combat internet addictions.

Each week your Accountability partner will receive an internet usage report based on all the devices you have connected to Covenant Eyes. The beauty being that every device from cell phones, tablets, and computers can be set up with Covenant Eyes. For a life on the go, Covenant Eyes goes with you. This personally helped me know my Accountability Partner was with me everywhere I went as well. Holding myself to my values became a team effort that left me feeling better and better when those reports came in each week. I could communicate that I had been better than I was last week.  For just $10.99/month anyone can start protecting themselves and their family online today. I felt it was a low price for what gave me a greater peace of mind, a better relationship with a loved one, and added value and sanctification to my day.

 

Is Covenant Eyes Right for Your Family?

If you or a loved one is struggling with inappropriate content online, the answer really is a no-brainer. Covenant Eyes is definitely right for your family. Similarly, if you don’t have or foresee a struggle with pornography in your future I still would recommend it. In a world where access to inappropriate material is literally at the touch of a button, there is no reason not to proactively protect you and your family from these life-altering habits. Covenant Eyes offers a 30-day money back guarantee which in turn helped relieve any pressure I had about trying things out. It allowed me to enjoy my personal time on internet devices knowing that my loved one was right there with me helping maintain our standards on and off the internet. VidAngel and Covenant Eyes allow families to live how they choose while maintaining the highest of values both in their entertainment and on the Internet.

 

I hope you find Covenant Eyes helpful to you or to a close family member.

Craig Campbell

VidAngel: Now Providing Sunday Naps for Parents

As a father of 4 girls under the age of 5, my world needs a streaming platform that I can trust my little ones to enjoy while I grab a desperately needed 30 min Sunday nap. VidAngel is solving this problem, beginning with the release of Owlegories.

Owlegories is an amazing, animated series that follows a group of student owls on their adventures learning about nature, faith, and God. And my kids LOVE it…and I can TRUST it while I grab a nap.

I know my girls LOVE Owlegories because they now request “the owls”…even over Veggietales. And my wife and I are better parents because we get the much-needed Sunday nap without having to screen everything our girls watch.

This is the beginning of our effort to give parents of little children a break from the relentless needs of being a great parent without sacrificing your kids.

What features would help you give your kids a controlled TV experience that both you and they can enjoy? Let us know how we can continue to improve VidAngel for youngsters.

Quality over Quantity – VidAngel’s Take on Autoplay

In an effort to serve the needs of families over the needs of VidAngel, we have decided to give families the option to easily turn off the upcoming VidAngel “autoplay-the-next-episode” feature. Here’s why.

 

Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube go to great lengths to keep users on their websites for the longest time possible. They spend millions ensuring that every feature of their products is habit-forming (see Hooked: How to build Habit-Forming Products).

 

Thanks to Netflix’s autoplay, bedtime at my house is a battle. As the evening episode of “When Calls the Heart” ends, our girls fight to keep Mom or Dad away from the remote so that the next episode will begin. As parents, we usually find the autoplay feature to be a hindrance, not a help.

Netflix Autoplay: Next Episode Playing in 9 seconds

 

Has the Netflix autoplay feature had a net-positive impact on our world’s happiness and productivity? At VidAngel, we are hesitant to take a similar strategy.

 

Personally, I find media to be a good servant, but a bad master. I value media, not when it consumes my every minute, but when it helps me achieve my other life goals, such as:

 

  • – Love (seeing examples of healthy and unhealthy relationships)
  • – Learning (seeing examples of those who have been where I am, or where I want to go)
  • – Empathy (understanding those whose experiences are different from my own)
  • – Laughter (cultivating a light-hearted life)
  • – Or a Nap (resting easy without worrying that the little ones are getting into trouble)

 

Tristan Harris, founder of Time Well Spent,  also believes that media is a bad master. He argues that, rather than incentivizing binge watching and “show[ing] whatever keeps us scrolling”, the tech and media industry must instead begin “to put our best interests first.”

 

I want VidAngel to put the needs of families ahead of the needs of VidAngel. Meaning that customers who, like myself, wish to consume their media in moderation should not feel pressured to binge watch against their better judgment.

 

Although our team is currently working on an autoplay-next-episode feature for those who have asked for it, we have decided to use VidAngel to help achieve our media goals as families rather than simply copying Netflix’s.  Hence, our tech team will provide an easily available “disable autoplay” button. That’s something I’d like as a parent. We’ll also make it super easy to “enable autoplay” for those who are in the mood to binge. It’s up to you.

 

What do you think? Please share your thoughts or parental feature requests below in the comments. What would you love to have as a feature to your favorite family media app?

 

Even though the average American watches five hours of TV per day, we’re ok if VidAngel families get quality rather than quantity on their media experiences. Watch however the BLEEP you want.

Neal Harmon, Co-founder and Father of Eight 🙂

Can I expect VidAngel Studios content to be appropriate for me and my family?

 

I am writing a response to a series of tweets I received from @Papabrose on Twitter. He was disappointed in Tim Timmerman, Hope of America because he felt like there were sections he would filter.  First off, thanks for voicing your concern.

 

Can I expect VidAngel Studios content to be appropriate for me and my family?

 

VidAngel aims to produce family-friendly while encouraging artists to give their best work. However, that does NOT necessarily mean an unfiltered VidAngel Studios movie will meet your family’s unique standards. In fact, I personally plan to set a few filters for my young children when we watch Tim Timmerman together.

 

If I had been the producer from the beginning, aiming to reach my own young family, I would have made the movie with a few changes. But then, all of my family are younger than high school age. Cameron Sawyer, the director, made this movie for a high school audience and older. In fact, Cameron is already adjusting one part of the film based on responses from me and the VidAngel Premiere audience on Wednesday.

 

This is a well-done indie film. Cameron has done a terrific job creating a film with an uplifting message about honesty, integrity, and the harms of exploiting others for political gain. Is the movie “family-friendly” for all audiences? No. So, as with any content, we advise parents to use discretion in deciding whether to view the movie with their families.

 

Audiences Are Responding Well

 

High schoolers love Tim Timmerman and adults feel nostalgic watching it. We’re at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes so far. Cameron did a wonderful job creating a movie to match his audience and we’re excited to back his film.  

 

Exciting Future

 

Next time we do a film, we can work with Cameron and his team from the beginning, and provide more feedback based on our filter data. Future filter data on this film will give Cameron insights into creating his next film. 

The feedback loop is a core advantage of VidAngel Studios content. This is something that all of us will learn to do better over time.

 

In Conclusion

Tim Timmerman is a funny, charming rom-com set in the nostalgic nineties and we’re thrilled to get behind it, but please review the data below before deciding to see it in theaters.

 

Thanks for supporting the premiere and voicing your concern @Papabrose! It gave me a great opportunity to explain how filtering will inform artists future work.

Best,

Neal Harmon

 

Why is this movie PG-13?

We’re surprised the MPAA rated this movie PG-13, and it will likely be one of the cleanest PG-13s you’ve ever seen.
What are the content warnings? Two instances of d*mn. Two instances of b*tch*n. Implied drug use – Tim grabs a joint from a fellow student to prevent him from smoking it. High school counselor has a creepy crush on Tim but he doesn’t seem to know it. Strapless and sleeveless dresses with some cleavage. Suggestive material – two high schoolers passionately make out in a van.

Why did VidAngel Publish Fifty Shades of Gray, Wolf of Wall Street and Game of Thrones?

UPDATE [9/29/2015]: We’ve just released a new feature that allows you to hide any movie on the VidAngel website. We will soon be extending this feature out to apps. This gives you and me more control over our VidAngel experience.

ORIGINAL: This is a question we’re commonly asked and that we were forced to ask ourselves before we decided to build VidAngel. In the beginning, as we grappled with this issue, we decided not to make VidAngel a moral authority for other people, but to create a community that empowers a broad range of people, cultures, moralities to be able to make better media decisions.

Personally, based on what I’ve heard, these movies seem like pornography with a story line. And the research about pornography and its impact on society is very well documented at Fight the New Drug. I don’t know if these have any story line left after being filtered, but the community seems to think so.

Even though VidAngel can cut out graphic sex, violence and profanity, that does not make a movie worth watching.

Check the tags of these movies and you’ll be able to quickly see if it matches your own personal standards. They absolutely don’t match mine. As a founder of VidAngel, I do not recommend these movies to families, even with a filter.

In fact, personally, I choose not to watch much of the content on VidAngel due to the nature of the movies. I’m kind of simple, but I really like movies that uplift me.

Here’s a reminder about VidAngel’s principles:

VidAngel Stands Against:

Justification To Watch More Bad Content:
If the content of the movie as a whole is against your standards, don’t use VidAngel to justify watching it.

Forced Censorship:
What you watch should be your choice in your home. Your neighbor will likely have different standards than you, and that is okay as long as you and your family don’t have to watch what everyone else watches.

No “Taking One For The Team”:
As a member of the VidAngel community, you agree to only participate in tagging movies/videos you would already watch without filtering. There are always other people who have different standards willing to filter the harder content. The ends don’t justify the means.

VidAngel Stands For:

More Choice:
VidAngel gives families a larger library of good content to choose from without compromising your family standards.

Watching More Good Content:
There are lots of films that have great messages, but often the filmmakers might have a different set of standards than you do. That’s okay. VidAngel allows you to enjoy the parts of their content you agree with, not worrying about breaking your own family rules.

To Summarize:
Members of the VidAngel community decided they wanted to tag these movies. They had already chosen to watch the movies in theaters or on HBO before they choose to tag them.

If a movie is released that no one in our community is willing to watch before tagging, then that movie will never be published on VidAngel. There’s no taking one for the team, period.

But I personally will never let my own family near this content and lots of other content. A lot of people would say I’m over the top. And for many, I am. But because I want the right to choose to watch both what and how I want, I also want to afford that right to others. Others will choose for themselves.

VidAngel is about empowering families and individuals to be able to make better content decisions, even if that means choosing not to watch movies with a filter.

Of course, we’re open to improving our policies based on community feedback.

Best regards,
– Neal Harmon, VidAngel Founder

47 percent of Parents are likely to use VidAngel

With our paintball video campaign, we’re getting a lot of questions, one of which is where is the data on almost half of families wanting our service. Well, here it is.

We surveyed 900 Americans using Google Consumer Surveys and asked them if they had children or teenagers at home. Then we asked them this question:

YouTube vs Movies Survey Summary

 

We’re building VidAngel for that 47 percent who are likely or very likely to use software that filters swearing and other inappropriate content out of streaming movies.