Should I Fire My Accountability Partner?

“He’s so useless, if he had a third hand he would need a third pocket to put it in.”

This is how some Covenant Eyes members feel about their Accountability Partners. As I glance through e-mails and comments from our members, it is clear some don’t feel their Partner is really up to the task.

What do you want from your Accountability Partner?

Of course, some people don’t want a super-vigilant Accountability Partner. Earlier last year I sent out a survey to our blog readers about why they value having the Covenant Eyes Accountability program on their computers and cell phones. I asked our users to give a number rating on a scale of 1 to 10:

  • 1 = “I rarely or never have conversations with my Accountability Partner(s) about my Accountability Report. I just like knowing I’m being watched.”
  • 10 = “I have regular conversations with my Accountability Partner(s), and we often talk about my Accountability Report, even when the report looks good.”

I was surprised by the results. Over half (53%) of the people said 1, 2, or 3. Only 20% said 7, 8, 9, or 10.

It seems, even for our regular readers, the thing many of them value about Internet Accountability is just the knowledge that someone is watching them. They aren’t necessarily looking for a proactive Partner to help keep them in line.

Still there are others who want more. In a recent comment, “Tim” said there are three reasons why his Accountability Partner is falling short:

  1. His Partner does not show due diligence: he doesn’t read each Report and offer some specific comments on each one.
  2. His Partner is not timely: he doesn’t offer feedback until he has multiple Reports and is playing catch-up.
  3. His Partner is not alert to the whole Report: he doesn’t look at the “grey areas” on the Report—not just the Highly Mature sites but others that could be problematic.

Setting Expectations: 7 Tips

Before you fire you Accountability Partner, you may need to have a talk about expectations.

Whether you are disenchanted with your current Accountability Partner or are looking for one for the first time, it is important to set mutual expectations. I suggest using the Covenant Eyes Rating System and the modules on the Accountability Report to do this:

  1. Tell your Partner to how often you think they should get the Accountability Report. They can get your Reports delivered to them once every three days, once a week, or once every two weeks. Tell them which frequency you think is best based on your Internet surfing habits. Your Accountability Partner can change this Report setting on our website.
  2. Tell your Partner which sensitivity level is best for your Accountability Reports. Your Partner can choose a Report Sensitivity Level, giving them a choice about what web ratings they want to see on each Report. Are you only concerned about visiting porn sites? Then the HM (Highly Mature) setting is probably right for your Reports. Are you also concerned about other sites that might provoke lust (lingerie sites, crude humor, video sharing sites, dating sites, etc.)? Then the M (Mature) or MT (Mature Teen) settings might be better. Your Partner can also change this setting on our website.
  3. Tell your Partner to pay close attention to sites with high ratings. Your Partner can get a glance of some of the highest ratings by going to the “High Ratings per Site” module on the Accountability Report. Often page titles will appear, which should give your Partner a better idea about a questionable site. If page titles don’t appear, have your Partner look for questionable words in the web address, if there are any. Your Partner can learn more about how to read the Report here.
  4. Tell your Partner what times of day or night he/she should look out for. If you don’t think you should be online at 1:00 a.m., tell your Partner that. Each time a website is accessed, the time it was accessed will also appear on the Accountability Report. To get a general overview of this, tell you Partner to go to the “Average Hourly Usage” module on the Report. They’ll see a graph showing the times of day in percentages when the Internet was accessed.
  5. Tell your Partner about any “grey areas” he/she should be looking out for. You know where you get into the most trouble. Is it Facebook? Chat sites? Photo sharing? YouTube? Talk to your Partner about those sites and make sure they keep an eye out for them on the Report.
  6. Tell your Partner to ask you about any questionable web searches. On every Report you can choose to see the “Web Searches” module which gives a list of all the highly rated searches you did. Tell your Partner to always pay close attention to this section and ask you specifically about any questionable search.
  7. Tell your Partner how often and under what circumstances you expect them to talk to you about your Report. Do you want to hear from your Partner right after he/she sees the Report? Tell them that. Do you only want them to talk to you after a questionable Report, or even when the Report looks good? Tell them that. When they contact you, do you prefer they drop you an e-mail, call you, or talk to you in person? Tell them that. Setting these expectation will really help them do their job better.