Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Question I get from Parents - Is My Kid Ready for Email?

I get a lot of questions from parents asking if their kids are "old enough" for email.

See the WBTV video with Kim to see how she handled this situation with her daughters:
WBTV Video on Email & Kids

Consider this:
8 hours a day!  And we’re not talking about your work day.  We’re talking about the time your kids spend surfing the net, on a smartphone, TV or electronic devices.    Your kid also wants their own email account but is this smart or even safe?   

According to the recent Kaiser Family Foundation study, kids 8 to 18 spend almost 8 hours a day connected to devices.  That’s a lot of connectivity.  Then your kid asks you for their own email account, is this safe & should you let them have one?   

It’s become a rite of passage for your kids.  Changing their fashion or hairstyles, listening to new music, and getting their drivers’ license.  All things you went through as a kid but there’s a new twist to growing up now…getting that email account!   

Under a certain age, I know parents want me to tell them “No!” and use me as the bad guy but I think email can be a good way to test responsibilities with your kids.

Before you answer “yes” consider these points:
1.     How mature is your kid with communications with others when they are happy, sad or mad?  Internet email might not be a good fit for them.
2.     How old is your child?  Many email providers have minimum age requirements – you should not lie about their age to get them their own account.

    If you decide to say “yes”, I have 4 quick tips to keep your kids safe:
    • ACCOUNT NAME:  Choose an email that does not identify their name, age, gender

    • RULES:  Discuss ground rules about appropriate email communication; discuss the perils of cyberbullying, sexting, and sending pictures via email; the rule of “don’t talk to strangers” also applies; teach them to be wary of clicking on links in emails

    • ATTACHMENTS:  Tell them not to open attachments without consulting with you first.  Kids are notorious for clicking on all kinds of sites online and then sending infected attachments.

    • REVIEW:  Tell them you will be reviewing their emails regularly and to make sure their friends know the email account will be monitored.

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