1. Go Through the Report
What you look for on one person’s Report may be different from what you look for on another person’s Report. What kind of Internet browsing is your friend most concerned about? Adult content? Facebook? Dating sites? File sharing?
Talk beforehand with the person you hold accountable and ask, “What are the red flags I need to be looking for?”
Learn how to read all the sections of the Accountability Report. Here are some things to look for in your cursory review of the Report:
- Are there any highly rated websites?
- Are there any questionable web searches listed?
- Are there any questionable web addresses?
- What apps are being used?
- What times of day is the Internet used the most?
- Do you notice any patterns from previous reports?
2. Get the Details
If you don’t have questions about what you see on the Report, skip to the next step.
If you do have questions about what you see on the Report, talk to the person you hold accountable. Accountability Reports show what happened, not why it happened. Call up or e-mail the person you hold accountable and get the details.
- Mention the day(s) and time(s) the questionable activity happened. Ask him or her to give you more information. Exactly what happened?
- The Report might show a highly rated link, advertisement, or image that appeared on a website but wasn’t clicked on. Ask them if they remember seeing the questionable material.
- Don’t just ask yes or no questions. If he or she admits to inappropriate browsing, ask about the circumstances. What led to the temptation?
3. Give Encouragement
If everything looks good on the Report, send a quick e-mail to the person you hold accountable and tell them everything looks great.
Encourage your friend by making it reciprocal. Sign up for Internet accountability yourself and have your reports sent to your friend. This a great way to have mutual encouragement.
If there has been questionable Internet use, it might feel awkward at first to have a conversation about it. But remember, Internet accountability is not about being a cop or catching your friend red-handed. It is about being a coach and learning ways to motivate them to develop new habits online.
If you notice repeated problems, here are eight steps to follow with your friend.
1. Set aside time to talk. Don’t try to squeeze the conversation into a busy day. Plan a time to talk face-to-face or over the phone.
2. Listen first. Don’t feel the need to give advice right away. Be a good sounding board. Let your friend talk about what he or she did, why, and how your friend feels about it?
3. Ask your friend how you can challenge him/her. Don’t feel the pressure to know what to say or do. Ask your friend, “When these things happen, what it the best way for me to encourage you? How can I support you?”
4. Praise the small steps. If your friend is willing to talk about something he or she is ashamed of, this is itself a step in the right direction. Tell them you are glad they are willing to talk. Look for small changes over time and point out that you notice them.
5. Plan preventative steps. Look for patterns in your friend’s life that seem to lead to inappropriate Internet use. Does temptation strike in a certain place, a time of day, when he or she is in a certain mood, or after a certain event? Brainstorm practical ways your friend can put a wall between himself/herself and the temptation.
6. Tap the power of positive motivations. Ask your friend, “What do you have to gain in life by avoiding these temptations? Instead of giving into this temptation, what kind of person do you want to become?”
7. Tap the power of negative motivations. Ask your friend, “If you continue doing this over and over, what do you stand to lose in your life?”
8. Recognize when others are needed. Sometimes others need to be brought into the accountability relationship: a spouse, parent, mentor, counselor, or spiritual leader. Recognize when you need help or when others need to know.
Get the Free Christian Accountability Guide
Download “Christian Accountability: A Discussion Guide” and use it each time you meet with your Accountability Partner(s). Fill it out before you meet with them. At a glance, your parter(s) will know specific temptations and sins that need to be talked over and prayed about.
When we can be honest with others about the sin that so easily entangles us, it opens us up to receive care, encouragement, and wisdom from others.
Download and then send these encouraging cards to the person you hold accountable.
Card 1: No matter the obstacle, your determination to stand firm and be accountable is a path to victory.
Card 2: Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountains.
Card 3: Your Accountability Report was fantastic! Great job making decisions this week that will create a positive ripple in your life for years to come.