I’d like to tell you about a company called Action Alert– a FREE downloadable internet security software for your family – but I’d like to share some very personal information first.
Our young son had turned 11, home from a campout with a group of fine Christian young men. Our only internet worry at the time was maintaining the Webkinz Accounts by purchasing a stuffed animal once a year. We had our computer in the office, behind a closed door. The boys could browse their tv shows online, and play Webkinz. They spent maybe 30-40 minutes a day on line.
One afternoon – the door to the office was closed, and I asked our son to come to the yard with us, and I didn’t get a verbal response. On opening the door – he jumped up – the monitor was off, and he was ready to bolt to the yard. A frenzied look on his face. I asked him some questions, and then looked at the history (he didn’t know I about search history at the time), and I quickly saw a few youtube videos that he had looked up. I was shocked at the terms he typed in. I was in shock that he’d want to search out those videos. He had heard the terms at the camp out, it was talked about between the boys. Mind you, if you remember the days of the JC Penny Catalog, he didn’t find anything more than you’d see there, but it was the knowledge that he had stepped over the line – into wanting to turn to those pages.
I spent time talking to each parent involved, I sought out advice from parents whose grown sons I admired. Across the board, I found two reactions. From those with younger boys – Bar None – the response was “My little Timmy doesn’t even think about girls, and he is hardly ever on the internet, we don’t let him on line.”
From those with older kids – – Bar None – Their response was – Yes, it was shocking the first time their sons were discovered to look up photos in print or online. They talked about it as a family. They prayed about this new frontier in their boys’ lives. They set up boundaries, and increased accountability. They gave short term consequences, and opened communication without shame or guilt. They went through a wave of 2-3 times in their teen years, and all in all – they all came through as Godly men who chose to avert their eyes and not put themselves in situations where they had to choose to look away.
Several different families – with different types of sons – all said the same things.
Increase communication. Set Mentors before them. Let them know the legal, moral and biblical consequences down the road. Set up ways to keep accountable on line. Check in with them often, asking directly, how they are dealing with their thought life.
The number one hurdle,
What can you use – what is the balance – to allow freedom – with accountability – allowing them to choose – but setting up boundaries – online?
Sorry – for screaming – but I have to share our experience these past few weeks.
I downloaded the program, and it quickly loaded on my Toshiba Laptop with Windows 7. There was enough information on their website to let me know what they offered and what I was to expect. I suggest you spend time browsing their site. I didn’t tell the boys that I had downloaded it, but quickly, that evening, I received my first email from them:
You have the following notifications:
Jonathan on ‘MYPC-PC’ typed “poop” on 3/9/2012 at 12:46PM
Click this link to shutdown Internet access for Jonathan: (Link to Shutdown Given in Email).
I giggled. Jon has a game in Roblox that has a Pictionary type program. Poop is one of the pictures. We have received several emails from Action Alert. One part that is nice, is it tells you who was on the computer (if you incorporate User Accounts with Windows) and what they typed, and at what time. Then, I could go to the Viewer, and see what they were up to. This was really helpful when a guest in our home typed in X three times. I quickly looked at the viewer and saw that he was on a site that you use the x key to click on items to pick up to use on your game, once he picked up three objects, I got an email.
One thing to note, that our TOS Crewmembers discussed – most of their tools do not inhibit your family or friends from seeing or doing wrong. It will just let you know what they are doing. You can load in websites to block, put in time restraints, and curtail their activity, but you can’t get ahead of every keystroke. One day, I was at coffee with friends, when I received a notification from Action Alert on my phone. For fun, I clicked the Shutdown Link, just to see what would happen. When I called the boys, they had wondered, and we laughed, but they knew that I could and would shut it down even if I wasn’t in the home.
And this is what was stressed by the “moms who had gone before”. You can’t keep their desires restrained, you can’t monitor them 24/7, and watch the screen full time. You can instill your passion to want to please the Lord, your desire and reasons for them to battle the visual opportunities, and come along side them to help and provide accountability.
I urge you, not to be like the the young moms, and turn an eye, and say, “not my son”. If you do not have a program in place to help you partner with your child already in this battle – I strongly recommend Action Alert – It’s free, it’s easy to download, it created conversation in our home, and we have enjoyed the accountability.
In honest disclosure – I will say that when the computer seemed to slow down when the Viewer gets full. I’m not sure if this is real or perceived, but when the viewer reset – the computer sped up. We had issues with the Action alert disabling because of a conflict with something else on our computer – and I called their customer service helpline – quickly spoke to a real person – and he walked me through how to fix and resolve the problem, in less than 5 minutes total. He was quite helpful both on the phone and in an email inquiry to a question I had about the viewer. If you download the software – I urge you not to get frustrated if you think something is wrong, but to quickly contact their customer service. From our dealings with them, I truly believe their heart is for your family and their desire is to provide a quality accountability software to help you in training your children on the internet.
- Access Control
Shut down PC access remotely
- Activity Notification Alerts
Receive activity alerts via email or text
- Activity Video Recording
Records 60 hours of all PC activity
- Time Allowance
Set daily times when the PC can be used
- Site Blocking
Blocks unwanted and inappropriate sites
- Content Filtering
Allows only safe searches to be conducted
- Keystroke Logging
Logs user names and passwords
- Chat and E-mail Logging
Log both sides of conversations
Everything you need to setup a
Multiple User Protection
You may look and see what my Fellow Crewmembers experienced on our The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.. Please note that we all use different types and ages of computers with different operating systems. My advice is to contact Action Alert if you have any questions. We received this software for free as part of our tour on The Crew.