On April 27, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar participated in a livestream video conference with the Institute of Basic Life Principles. For many people watching, the video may have been positively illuminating. For others, it was nightmare-inducing.
One key moment occurred when the parents of 19 children were asked about tracking the online activities of their children. Michelle and Jim Bob admitted that they do track their children’s Internet use, including Internet use by adults. In fact, the Duggar parents insist that their adult children are totally on board with the idea.
Any adults living in the Duggar home apparently automatically consent to having their phones completely monitored. Curious about the kind of software they use? It’s Covenant Eyes, a religion-based program designed to keep “children” in line.
Currently, at least 11 of the Duggar children still live at home. Of those, five are unmarried adults. Josh Duggar and Joseph Duggar are both married but also live on family properties. It is unclear if the family patriarch still checks out their phone usage, but speculation exists that this behavior stems from Josh’s unsavory activities.
The monitoring of their children’s lives does not end with a thorough examination of their Internet use. It also extends to their daily “struggles.”
Over the years, a lot of speculation exists as to how much the Duggar children are forced to connect with their parent about their religious struggles. Many family critics point to control issues in the family, and much of the speculation comes from comments made by those who have disconnected from the family, like son-in-law Derick Dillard.
Dillard has been outspoken in his criticism of the Duggar family, especially after noting the issues his wife, Jill, has had to deal with. Dillard has spoken about the family’s lack of boundaries, which has also been evident in episodes of the family’s shows, 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On.
For instance, it was noted in 19 Kids and Counting that some of the older Duggar girls had been keeping track of their mother’s menstrual cycle, and they used it to determine if she might be pregnant. In other episodes, family members were seen outright asking other adults, “So, are you pregnant?”
In 2015, Michelle and Jim Bob did an interview with Covenant Eyes that also sheds light on the family’s beliefs.
For example, the family expressed feeling that giving their sons smartphones was too risky, but the girls and women were able to have them.
Jim Bob is quoted as saying, “Young men would have more of a struggle seeing bad stuff, so what we’ve done with the smartphones that we’ve had, we’ve actually locked out Safari and any Internet search at all. . .” He also went on to say that smartphones can steal souls.