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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

FREE Filtering Resources for Screen Safety

Filtering Resources for Screen Safety


With the launch of Kiddle, a "kid-friendly" visual search engine, earlier in March, talks of safe screen resources and apps have lit up my Facebook feed. Opinions of this site and others like KidRex are mixed. Some say they are filled with political ads and that their filtering options are not stringent enough. Others find them to be a great online search alternative for little eyes.


(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

While I don't know enough about Kiddle (or others) to form an educated opinion, I do know that I can not let someone else's standard of OK be the measuring stick for my home. As a parent, I am called by God to be the gatekeeper for my children...to sift everything that enters my home through a Philippians 4:8 grid. I, along with my husband, have the awesome responsibility to help guard the hearts and minds of my children and guide them towards a deeper relationship with Christ. I have to be vigilant to vet all the books (especially award winners), movies, and media that I allow them to watch and slowly nurture Philipians-style discernment within each of them.

I know that no man-made app, search engine, or resource will ever be fail-proof. However, I have come across two sites that have helped me to safeguard homeschool screen time.

VidAngel

VidAngel is my current GO TO source for family movie watching. No more trudging to Redbox. No more renting "family friendly" movies that end up containing crass, irreverent, or vulgar humor. No more late fees.

VidAngel allows you to instantly stream all the same movies as Redbox, both old and newly released, from the comfort of your own home. But, unlike Redbox, the VidAngel downloads are only $1...nothing more. And what's even better, with the help of the site's filtering system, you can set parental controls for language, violence, nudity, sexual-content, or just plain crass talk...on ANY movie. So, while I wouldn't personally recommend it, you could, in essence, turn a rated R movie into one that even a child could watch. 

Filters can be turned off and on with each movie you rent and strengthened or weakened depending upon your needs or personal preferences. Other than the $1 video rental cost, the site is completely free. The one caveat you should know is that your initial movie will cost $20. You will "buy" it for $20, set your filters, watch the video, and instantly sell it back to VidAngel afterward for a $19 credit. The next time you stream a video, your debit/credit card will only be charged $1 because the $19 credit will cover the difference. After you watch the second video and instantly sell it back to VidAngel, you will again receive a $19 credit to your account. This seems like a bit of a hassle, but due to copyright infringement laws, VidAngel can not legally allow you to filter a movie you have rented. So, they sell it to you, give you the tools for filtering, and then buy it back once you are done watching it.

In case you are curious, the filtering system will do one of two things when attempting to "clean" your movie...depending upon the severity of the situation. For short bursts of inappropriate language, the audio portion of the movie will just mute for the word or words. For longer bits of language or anything that is visual, the movie will skip ahead to the next scene.

Viewpure

As I've mentioned before, we're YouTube schoolers. We use YouTube almost every single day for homeschooling. In fact, we just watched a short clip of a muscle car shootout (don't ask!) earlier this afternoon. But, as you probably already know, YouTube can be a hot mess of inappropriate ads and off-color sidebar videos. No matter how innocent the clip, it will almost always be accompanied by some offensive "extra."

With the help of Viewpure, a free video scraper, you can watch any YouTube clip without fear of all of the other junk. Just copy the YouTube url address, paste it into the Viewpure search bar, and watch your video in peace. Viewpure scrapes all the ads, comments, and thumbnail videos and shows just the clip you've selected. Granted, you still have to go to YouTube to find the video you want to use in your homeschool day. But, your kids don't. They can feel free to watch the clip without all the crude distractions. 

Other resources worth looking into

The following is a list of resources that I have gathered from friends and sources I trust. Since I have only sampled a few them and have not used some of them at all, I can not give any of them a glowing endorsement...yet.

  • YouTube Kids app
  • K9 Web Protection- I used this filter for a while and found it to be a good internet watchdog...just as it claims. However, since it blocks all image searches and since my husband has to use image searches for his profession, I had to uninstall the software. 
  • GodTube.com
  • Kiddoware app

A final thought

We live in an ever-evolving digital age. We, as parents, have been charged with the difficult task of keeping the hearts and minds of our kids safe while also helping them to develop their own personal convictions and accountabilities. It's unrealistic and rather negligent to think that we can keep our children on a media island...never allowing them to use a screen. But, we certainly can not be lax with our protection and allow screen time to become a free-for-all. We're the gatekeepers.
The watchmen.

(In case you are curious, we own an older Apple ipad, 2 smart phones [for The Hubs and I], and 2 laptops [one for school and one for home business]. Our children do not currently have smart phones but are given the use of a call/text only TracFone or one of our smart phones when they need it for safety/accountability at a friend's home, youth events, and the like. For the most part, we have a household rule that two people need to be on a screen together whenever possible for accountability/personal safety. In the case of school work or other independent projects, the screens have to always be in a common area of the house so that others can have an attentive eye and ear on what is being viewed on the screen. My children do not have social media accounts or email accounts. Cyber bullying, on-line predators, pornography, and social chat rooms are just too dangerous and pervasive for me NOT to have these safeguards in place.)


1 comment:

  1. My son uses an iPad mini for "school" and his eternal musical device. I just wanted to say we've been using Mobicip for the last 6 mos, and it works great. We originally had K9. but it blocked SO MUCH as to render the device virtually useless. Mobicip blocks some things it shouldn't and lets by some things it should have caught, but, all-in-all, we've been VERY satisfied with it. And it was free!

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