Note: Accountable2You gave us a free year of their Family Plan in exchange for this review…which got a little longer than I had anticipated. Sorry ’bout that. If you want to read reviews from other members of the Homeschool Review Crew, which perhaps might be a little shorter and with fewer tears and less puppy talk, click on the banner below:
First, a little background…which most of you already know…and which is entirely relevant to this review, even though it doesn’t feel like it:
We have eight children. We also live in a travel trailer and tour the country full-time for our Christian music mission. (Learn more about that here and follow our travels here.)
I am a book NUT! Seriously, a NUT! And I used to be fairly anti-screen for my young crowd. That olde school combo meant books, books, and more books, and no unsupervised internet activity. That was back when we had a big house with closets and rooms bursting with books, and no teens yet, which made the “all books, limited screens” concept doable.
Life is a little different now. Exit house; enter 29-foot travel trailer. Towing a travel trailer around these United States means we only have so much room and so much weight allotment for books. And when I say “so much,” I really mean a ridiculously small amount. I’ll show you a picture of that someday, but first I have to cry.
I am getting to the point. Stick with me.
As my crowd grows older (and larger), and our ridiculously small amount of book space shrinks (or at least seems to shrink), we have had to rely on modern technology for our schooling needs far more often than I would like. That inevitably means computers, kindles, and smartphones, and that inevitably means more internet access and that inevitably results in less supervised internet access, because I’m only human. (My husband has a song about that–being “only human,” not unsupervised internet access.)
We have discussed internet safety with our kids, and the little ones have limited access. We use some blocking tools to keep the kids safe from those nasty images that pop up on the screen or from accidental search results. So the kids are relatively safe and the kids are relatively trained. We want them to be more than relatively safe and relatively trained.
Enter Accountable2You…stage left. (There really is no stage, so don’t get confused. I’m just waxing nostalgic about my old acting days.)
Accountable2You is an accountability service that holds you accountable. (Can you say, “Duh!”) What I like about accountability software is that, rather than making it impossible for, say, your 16-year-old to spend her math time hunting PetFinder for a golden retriever puppy up for adoption, it causes her to determine whether or not that is the best way to use her time. In other words, it teaches responsibility with accountability. I’m all about accountability…and responsibility.
How does it do this?
Accountable2You teaches responsibility by making my aforementioned 16-year-old daughter, for example, accountable for her actions. Everything she does online is reported to the accountability partner we set up who, in this case, is Steve (my man) and me. You can choose your own accountability partner because, no offense, I’m a little busy with my own accountability-ing.
Accountable2You offers four different plans:
Individual Plan: Do you want to monitor only one person? Perhaps you spend too much time looking at cookie recipes or hunting for puppies when you should be writing reviews of accountability software. You need to be monitored. This plans for you. You can attach up to six devices.
Family Plan: This plan allows up to 20 devices, which is a lot of devices, even for my family! You can monitor several people, including those who may be boarding elsewhere. This plan also enables you to set hours for your kids, so you’re alerted if they’re doing a little after-hours puppy hunting.
Group Plan: A group is…well…a group. You’re welcome for that explanation. Each person in the group can attach up to six devices. I did not review this plan, but from my understanding, the administrator does not receive user reports, so each family maintains its privacy. The reports are sent to the accountability partner the family chooses rather than the group administrator.
Small Business Plan: Unlike the Group Plan, administrators of the small business plan receive reports on what their employees are up to during work hours. No puppy hunting on the clock, folks!
I (because so far this hasn’t been beyond even my technical expertise) install the software on all devices I want monitored. It hasn’t been any more difficult than installing an app, so far. (Ignorance disclosure: I don’t know how to install apps on the KindleFire–I’m going to need help with that one, so I put it off.) If you can install, say, PacMan on your device, you can install Accountable2You…and then monitor how much you’ve been playing PacMan.
You select your accountability person. I selected myself, because I was a willing and enthusiastic volunteer. (I may have bribed myself with cookies a little…and the promise of a puppy.) You can select more than one person.
Then, customize your list of objectionable words. My husband would add “puppies” to my list, because he is under the delusion that we’re not getting one and thinks I’m wasting my time by looking for one–silly guy. Perhaps you want to add Minecraft, a teen idol, or diseases to your list if you have a hypochondriac in the house.
Set time limits for each device if you so choose. This is a great way for me personally to be more aware of how much time I spend online.
As the accountability masters, I or my husband receives hourly reports as soon as something objectionable happens on a device. So within an hour of looking at that darling little golden retriever up up for adoption in Arizona, my husband was giving me the look.
I half-joke about puppies and cookies, but as you must be aware, pornography is a rampant problem that ensnares men and women at young ages. It is huge in the church also. If you know you are accountable to your mother and then your wife or husband for your behavior, won’t that affect what you look at? Won’t that remind you to mind your own behavior, because aren’t we ultimately accountable not only to ourselves and others, but to God? Yes. Yes, we are.
I don’t believe in raising our children (or ourselves) in a bubble, but I firmly believe in protecting them and teaching them to hold themselves accountable. Accountability doesn’t end in childhood. Personal accountability should be a way of life for adults as well–it isn’t, sadly, but it should be. Accountable2You is one tool in the arsenal of staying on the narrow road.
Check it out. I’m off to look at puppies. Don’t tell my husband…although he’ll know within an hour.