Monday, September 10, 2012

Kids and Technology - Email: 4 Tips for Parents

In this age of technology, parents are faced with decisions about allowing (or denying) things like cell phones, ipads, facebook and email accounts.

These forms of technology can enhance or diminish productivity and lifestyle.

Facebook can create social problems and hurt feelings; and it encourages children to divulge personal information on the internet.  iPads give children the ability to access internet in unsupervised areas of the home.  Cell phones are a whole topic onto themselves!

A good way to ease in, is with email.  

Allowing your child to have their own email account is a priviledge.  If done properly it's a good way for them to learn communication skills and typing skills while staying in touch with friends -   in a way that is convenient for homeschoolers.

If you decide to allow them to set up an email account here are a few tips:

1.  Don't let them use their name as the address.  This can lead to privacy issues that a child is not prepared to deal with. can be an easy mark for predators, knowing their name gets them a foot in the door.

2. Maintain a rule that you must always have the password to the account so that you can check on it whenever you like.  And, do this - randomly.

3. Have the incoming mail to your child's account forward to your own email.  This way, you have your finger on the pulse of what's arriving in their inbox.  You won't know what's going out the outbox, but at least you'll know if there are any topics or issues which require discussion.

4.  Don't allow them to use their email address on websites, etc.  They should only give it to friends they know in real life.  This will eliminate Spam, Junk mail and other unwanted solicitation.  If you opt for Gmail, it has a pretty good junk filter.  I use it as my primary email account and all of the viagra, and make money/send money emails completely skip my inbox.

Personally, I think a good age to allow children to begin with email is around 12.  You may differ on this idea.  In my home this is an age where children are expected to do more around the house, take more ownership of their schoolwork and chores, and are generally interested in contact with people outside the home. (And I use it to remind them about school assignments, using my GoogleCalendar!)

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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