Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Accountable2You (Homeschool Review)

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

This month we have been trying out the Accountable2You internet accountability plan. Accountability software differs from filtering software, which actually blocks sites and search terms. Filtering software can be very helpful, especially for children who may accidentally stumble upon inappropriate content during their web use. Accountable2You offers a different approach. It does not filter, but instead it monitors activity and app usage, then sends alerts or reports to a specified accountability partner of any questionable activity

Accountable2You offers several different plans: Individual, Family, Small Business, and Group. We reviewed the Family Plan. The benefits of this particular plan include monitoring of up to 20 devices, child user accounts, unlimited accountability partners, and the ability to set time limit alerts. Like all the account options, it offers a choice of daily or weekly email reports, instant text alerts, real time reporting, and management of objectionable word lists.

The user is responsible for making good choices while on the internet. Determined users can sometimes disable or get around filtering programs and “beat the system,” but accountability programs teach the user to self monitor. If the user knows his password, he can change settings himself, but his partner will get a notification that he did so!

Accountable2You works with many different devices, including computers, tablets, and android phones. Unfortunately, the features are more limited for iPhones and iPads because of Apple’s own restrictions. Apps cannot be monitored and internet usage is only monitored through a specially designed browser on Apple products.

I already have filtering software on the computer that Emily uses. However, since I don’t have a filter on her Kindle Fire, which is the device she is more likely to use anyway, I was excited to have the opportunity to give Accountable2You a try. I don’t have any particular concerns about her internet usage, but I do like to monitor what is going on just in case.

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Accountable2You is easy to use.

  • Step 1: Set up an account.
  • Step 2: Add family members to the account. Each person will have his or her own sign in name and password.
  • Step 3: Install the app on each device. Each device is linked to a person and individual time controls, alert words, and accountability partners can be set for the device.

Devices are then monitored automatically. Depending on the setting, emails or texts are sent to the designated accountability partner. Notifications can be sent instantly, daily or weekly, depending on settings. I have Emily’s reports set to daily (although I will get an instant notification for time infractions or serious concerns). The daily report will show me any questionable activity and also lets me click onto the site to see ALL of her app activity. This could be a good way to see if your child is getting distracted during school time!

Emily’s alert activity has been pretty quiet. The first day I put it on, though, I got an alert that she was on the internet after 10 p.m. It was okay—she had a friend spending the night and they were listening to a song on YouTube shortly after 10:00, but I’m glad that I got the alert. I definitely want to know if she’s staying up late watching Netflix or browsing the internet at 1 a.m.!

I entered a few terms as alert words just to test the program. She’s currently taking a course in Terrorism and Homeland Security, so I chose “crime” and “terror.” I didn’t get an alert when she searched for “terrorism,” so I realized that I did need to specifically list forms of words.

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Emily also has an iPhone SE. Her Safari browser  inexplicably stopped working recently, so she was happy to install the Accountable2You browser and I don’t have to worry about her using another browser to avoid being watched. The app does NOT monitor any other app usage, though. One feature that is supposed to work on the iPhone is tracking. This would be wonderful to have. I’d really like to be able to better monitor her location when she is out with friends. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it to work. I sent a message to the company and they responded quickly and were very helpful, but after trying the suggested  solutions, it just didn’t work. If the tracking feature was functioning, I would be able to see a location map like this for her location over the past 24 hours or more.

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I also installed the app on my Fire Phone to test the features. Here, I was very impressed. Although the location app didn’t work on my phone either, all the other monitoring features worked well. I was sent alerts for questionable activity, like disabling or enabling features and apps within the phone. Also, when logging onto the website, I could view data about all activity on the phone, including the content of text messages and senders and receivers of all phone calls and data about what times the phone was used. This was really awesome! I really wish all this data was available for Emily’s phone as well.

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If you have any concerns about your child’s app or internet usage, I highly recommend Accountable2You for use on Android devices, tablets, or computers.

Plans start at $6.99 a month and a 10-day free trial is available.

 

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}
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