“the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.“
Often, we don’t want this–especially when we know that we are doing something wrong. Which is why many of us like to use our “private browser” to look at the things we don’t want anyone else to know of.
This is the scary truth behind the internet; you can do an outrageous amount of things without ever having to be held accountable for those actions.
You can view porn without your wife knowing, make slanderous comments against people from an anonymous account with zero consequences (aka trolling), you can waste your life away scrolling through post after post, and so much more.
Contrary to what your brain is telling you, those things aren’t making you happy–porn especially. What is happening is that your body is releasing dopamine during those activities, but you aren’t getting real satisfaction after. It’s like getting to take a bite out of a burger but not getting to eat it. Your body gets excited about the deliciousness of a perfectly cooked hamburger patty topped with ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, and juicy tomato slice yet never gets the satisfaction of being full from it. For more on how dopamine rewires your brain, read our article here.
That is why we need to be accountable for our actions online. That is why accountability software is so necessary–especially if you are trying to free yourself from the bonds of pornography. Internet accountability is not just for fixing issues either. Teaching your children to be accountable for their time online is also the best way to prevent harmful habits forming around internet use.
Notice we aren’t speaking about filters here, but down and dirty accountability. Filters displace actions and don’t really address the issue, whereas accountability software takes the fight home. It makes you take a long look in the mirror for you to make an actual lasting change (Not convinced, read more about filters, and their pitfalls, here).
So, now you must be asking “how is it possible to be held accountable for my time online since there are so many ways to spend it?”
Thankfully, there is a myriad of tools available to help with this, and every year they are getting better and better. So, I will break down the next sections into desktop accountability and mobile accountability so that you can see how it is possible to be accountable regardless of what device you are on.
First off, desktops here mean any computer equivalent to a laptop or better (including the Microsoft Surface). These devices are what we use primarily at work or school and typically have a lot of computing power and space to be used for heavy tasks.
Traditionally, when we think if safety for desktops we don’t think of accountability programs, we think of filters. You know, those annoying things that don’t truly work. I remember being able to bypass our internet filters in middle school and being able to circumvent China’s Facebook filter while traveling overseas in college.
Now, to be fair, filters have a place and can be extremely useful. However, filters are truly a “you get what you paid for” product and are still troublesome. Sometimes they are easy to bypass and other times they are so restrictive you can’t even use the internet to complete your work.
That is why accountability software is so necessary. Rather than restricting your ability to use your computer, accountability software allows for your activity to be viewed by a second party and allows for you to be held accountable for your actions.
Typically, the apps used for monitoring your desktops will not be intrusive and will not require a lot of computer power. They will register the activity of your IP address and then record it, send it to a server, and add it to a report tied to your device.
Device monitoring, on the other hand, is a much more complicated process. For starters, there is a myriad of devices with different operating systems and different methods of interaction.
Mobile devices are any device that is highly mobile (think tablet or smaller) that you would use on the go. The primary mobile device is apparently your cell phone. According to Impactbnd, 69% of users view media from their smartphone and 89% of that time is spent in-app.
If we are spending the majority of our time on smartphones, the protecting ourselves on those devices is imperative. However, as I said before, this can be complicated.
For starters, monitoring in-app activity is much harder than watching web traffic. Often, apps work via VPNs (virtual private networks) and are closed off to traditional accountability monitoring practices. Also, every operating system has different complexities that require special software to monitor their operating system. So, that means developers have to create separate software for iOS, Android, Kindle, etc. Of those, Apple products tend to be the harder nut to crack. Accountability apps for iOS tend to only track browser behavior due to how closed off Apple’s ecosystem is.
Due to this, Android phones and devices tend to offer the best accountability software. Ever Accountable, Covenant Eyes, Accountable2you, X3watch, etc. are all companies that provide a solid Android app for accountability.
Shameless plug: Ever Accountable ranks number one on the Google Play store amongst its competitors. Click here to see what we have to offer.
While we don’t have reviews of the myriad of accountability applications here, you can click on this link to take you to our rankings of which app you should get (We tried to be as unbiased as possible).