Most parents are deeply concerned with their children's use of the internet in their own home. Will our children see inappropriate content, pornography, etc. easily in our own homes?
Who wants THAT?
Definitely NOT me. I've seen what has happened to more than one youth who easily - and at first, accidentally - viewed pornography and inappropriate content on their family's home computer. It is life-changing...in a very negative way. The results can last for years and years.
What if I could download some software that enabled me to do the following:
The FREE version provides all 8 of these tools to one computer per household.
The Maximum Protection version ($29.99) may be used on multiple computers in the same household, it is customizable, and it monitors all social networking sites as well.
Action Alert is easily downloaded and installed to your home computer. Action Alert sent me the link to their Maximum Protection version, and it was easily installed on one of our home computers. I chose not to install it on both of our computers in case there were any problems in the installation and use of Action Alert.
Action Alert automatically sets itself as the "home page" on your computer. It provides a search engine for searching the internet. If someone chooses to type something inappropriate into the search engine, the inappropriate sites will be automatically blocked from view.
I was surprised to find that I could easily open up a new tab next to the Action Alert home page...and this would allow me to access anything inappropriate, should I desire to do so. It would also allow me to open up a different search engine, like Google, and access anything I wanted to at the other search engine. Hmm. So, instead of this being a "blocking" software for anything inappropriate, there seem to be ways to bypass the filtering.
However, I also noticed that within a few minutes of me typing words that could possibly be considered as inappropriate ("bloody", for example), I received an email that someone on this particular computer had typed the word "bloody" in the Action Alert search engine.
For parents who have smart phones, they can add their phones to the Action Alert software so that the parent is sent a message whenever inappropriate content is searched for on the home computer, even if the parent is away from home.
I wasn't able to assess this feature, because I don't have a smart phone. I did hear some members of the TOS Crew mention that they received notices on their smart phones from a few minutes to 45 minutes after the inappropriate search was completed, but since I wasn't able to try this feature, I really have no idea how well it works.
I do know that Action Alert, via a smart phone, can be used to remotely turn off/shut down a home computer. Wow! That is a great feature, especially if the warning is received by the parent within a couple of minutes of the indiscretion taking place.
Site Blocking appears to be a positive feature of Action Alert, if you are willing to type in a bunch of inappropriate website addresses you don't want your family to access. The problem I see with this is that a majority of the internet is inappropriate and NOT family-friendly. A person could spend a lifetime adding in website addresses of inappropriate websites. This doesn't seem feasible to me, but maybe I'm completely misunderstanding how this feature works.
Activity Video Recording allows a parent to know every keystroke that has been typed over the previous 60 hours. Occasionally, I would receive an email that this feature was 90% or 100% full. When the capacity of 60 hours is reached, then all of that information is dumped, and a new set of 60 hours of recording is begun.
The other features of Action Alert are worthwhile for parents to explore and use, if they desire.
Our overall impression of Action Alert:
This company seems to be heading in the correct direction, to help protect children. The downloading process went well, although our computer seemed to slow down significantly and progressively over a few weeks' time, even after rebooting our computer and unplugging our wireless router. I'm not sure why this happened, but after we uninstalled Action Alert, the computer went back to its normal speed.
In my mind, I think Action Alert is a good product to install on home computers, for the purpose of accountability. In other words, when I tell my children that every keystroke they type will be recorded, and inappropriate content they search for will be emailed or texted to me, this provides them with a level of accountability. Even if I personally know that I may not receive the message for a few minutes or maybe even a few hours, my children will know that I will be alerted. For many children, just having that level of accountability works well enough for them to stay out of trouble on the internet.
However, if you would like to prevent your children from seeing inappropriate content on the internet, you may want to look for a different product that will actually filter all internet searches, regardless of which search engine is used.
For my own family, we've chosen to pay for regular internet filtering on a quarterly basis. The service we selected blocks 99% of internet pornography and inappropriate graphics and pictures. It blocks out inappropriate ads on websites, and much more. This seems to work the best for us.
As far as social networking goes, my children use my own YouTube account, so I can follow all conversations placed over YouTube. I'm also a "Friend" on my daughter's Facebook account so I can easily see any conversations taking place on her account. And, my girls know that at any moment, I can get onto their Gmail accounts and read all of their mail, which I do from time to time. Those extra checks I place on their social networking and email accounts also provides them with a sense of accountability.
Should Action Alert eventually have a product that will almost completely filter internet like the service our family already uses, and then combine it with the features they already offer, they are going to have one very solid PC protection product for families!
Want to know what other TOS Crew families thought about Action Alert? Check out their reviews HERE!
Disclaimer: I received the Maximum Protection version of Action Alert in exchange for my honest review of their product. No other compensation was provided.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!
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