Sunday, March 25, 2012

Action Alert

One thing I have observed over the past dozen or so years that I have been actively homeschooling is that technology is getting more and more important.

Back when my oldest children were little, I felt very strongly about seriously limiting their computer time.  I avoided the few computer-based educational programs out there, and I had a bit of an attitude about how much better that was for my children.

I still think that a lot of the stuff out there marketed to little kids is a total waste of time, but I have found a number of programs that have been a fabulous addition to our homeschooling, not only for my teens, but also for my younger ones.  My kids can do online math lessons, or they can read to wonderful, patient computer programs that let them repeat material innumerable times.  They can virtually dissect frogs, or they can watch a hurricane forming.

There are some huge potential downsides to technology though.  Kids can find all kinds of yucky stuff online, or they can get sucked into time-consuming pursuits that aren't necessarily bad other than that they take away from time spent doing something more productive like playing outdoors.  They can strike up online friendships with some wonderful people, but there is also the risk of telling the wrong people too much about their lives and habits.  Lots of internet dangers

It can be scary.

We've taken a few different approaches to how to handle all of this.  Our Apple computers gave us the ability to easily set parental controls that would allow us to see what they were up to at any time, and that gave us the freedom to allow the kids to be online in quieter areas of the household.

But what about the PC computers?  Well, for us, one is the desktop which is located where it is visible to anyone in the living room.  The PC laptop doesn't get a whole lot of use except in running specific programs and the kids don't really get online with it.

If they did, I would want to have something that would help to protect them.  Action Alert is one intriguing option.  The graphic below talks about the eight tools it provides:

I do love the mix of tools provided, and you can make adjustments so you have different rules for each user.  You can block websites, for instance, or you can set it to send an email or text alert when questionable activities occur. 

The best part of Action Alert is that much of the protection is available for free!  Free Parental control software for Windows computers, how great is that?  There is also a Maximum Protection version that you can upgrade to at any point for $29.99.

Why our Apple computer child safety system has worked so well is that my kids always know that we are a part of their "computer life" and that while we don't go overboard in watching everything they do, at any point we CAN pop in and check things out.

Action Alert provides that same ability -- we could come in and check things out at any point, and we can know what is going on with their "computer life."

Now, because we are a Mac household, and because we have had some tech issues with our PCs, and because the PCs really aren't used in a way that concerns us right now, we decided that installing a safety program right now was not a good idea.  If, however, we ever get back to being more PC-dependent, this is something we will look into.

To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Action Alert, click the banner here:


Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive access to the full version of Action Alert for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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