The Snare of the Web!

Oblivious Orville sat down at his computer researching a project for school. He was well down the “Google trail” and nearly done with his investigation, when he inadvertently mistyped the URL (he only missed on one keystroke). A graphic image appeared on his screen that shocked him, which to this day he cannot remove from his mind. Oliver had never intended to go down this trail.

Pornography on the Internet is big business (estimated at $57,000,000,000 (that is billion) annual revenue world-wide). In a survey, 47% of professing Christian men admitted an addiction to pornography. The idea, as with other addictions, is to lure someone in, and when they are “hooked,” begin charging them.

The same night, Weak Will was also in front of his computer, but with different intentions. The long-awaited football season had just begun, and he anxiously placed online bets on his favorite teams. He was certain that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing, and he had everything under control. But did he?

Gambling is another addiction that can lead to long-term financial consequences.

Last-minute Lois had waited until the last minute to prepare her writing assignment. She desperately browsed the Internet looking for an example that would verify the point she was making. She was delighted to find one that perfectly fit the situation, but was it really true?

The Internet offers volumes of information, some true and some not true. Before proclaiming anything as true because you read it on the Internet, verify the information from some reliable sources (teachers or other listeners). This includes gospel illustrations.

Easy-way-out Elizabeth knew it was wrong, but justified buying a term paper from the Web because she would only do it “this one time.” She had been so desperately busy with legitimate things that kept her from completing her assignment.

There are the issues of ethics and personal integrity.

Idle-time Ichabod faced another Saturday with “nothing to do.” Instead of “redeeming the time,” he chose to “surf the net,” “IM some friends,” and add a few new pictures to his “MySpace page.” He looked up after what he thought were several hours, and realized that an entire day had been spent with little eternal profit.

This final example involves the issue of wasting time.

What can be done to lessen the likelihood of becoming involved in any of the above problems?

First, and most important, one should make a covenant with God using the words of David in Psalm 101:3: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes,” or Job’s similar words in Job 31:1: “I made a covenant with mine eyes.” Posting these verses on the top of your monitor will remind you each time you use the computer of your commitment to yourself and God to maintain your purity and integrity.

Second, have a simple means of accountability. Set your computer so it always faces areas where “traffic” passes regularly.

Third, there is software you can purchase, services to which you can subscribe, and configurations you can make to your browser that will help with the first two cases mentioned above.

Filtering Software: This is the most common means of limiting access. Most filtering software does a pretty good job of preventing a person from accessing an inappropriate site. The filters I have investigated initiate a service at computer boot-up. This cannot be manually shut down or over-ridden except via a password. This password could be administered by a mother, wife, or other responsible person in the household. The following site does an excellent job of rating options for this type of prevention:

The reviewers recommend the product called “Content Protect.”

Internet Service Providers (like AOL) also offer filtering. AOL offers parental controls allowing monitoring, time spent, and sites visited. I am not an AOL user, so I cannot verify the following, but they claim to offer four levels of filtering (from Adult to Kids Only) and with varying filter strengths: strength of the filter to low, medium, and high.

Accountability Services: This method, instead of preventing access to a site, communicates to a responsible person (possibly an overseer or parent) that an inappropriate site has been visited. Software is available which immediately, or at a specified periodic time (weekly, monthly), notifies the responsible party of a violation. Software options for accountability include: CovenantEyes, IntegrityOnline, Onlinepurity, Safeeyes, Eye Promise, and Internet Accountability. These can all be found on Parents should regularly check the history of sites browsed in the past few weeks (Toolbar in Explorer and Go History in Netscape).

Here is the bottom line. None of the above software, services, or otherwise will work if a person is determined to expose himself to these unprofitable or ungodly things on the Internet or elsewhere. The real issue is where your desires lie. Scripture puts it this way: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest (honorable) whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).