In today’s world, everyone needs their own email addresses – even kids. And they need them much earlier than you might expect.
Why so early?
Initially, your child won’t need an email account as much for reading and sending emails, as she will need it to use for website registrations and logins. Most websites that require an account, require an email address. You can maybe get by for a little while by using your own email address, but once you need accounts for more than one child, you’re stuck. You’ll need another unique address to create additional users, so you’ll be forced to come up with a better solution. And I don’t know about you, but I have enough emails to wade through in my Inbox without adding messages from Nancy Drew and PBS Kids to the mix.
Plus, once a child has an email account, you can create a Child Apple ID and a Child Microsoft Live account. Both companies offer Family Settings which allow you to add children under your own account and create safety restrictions and even set time limits (Microsoft).
Isn’t it dangerous?
It depends. A private email account with a web-based email provider can expose children to potentially graphic advertisements and links to everything from dating websites to social media outlets. Gmail doesn’t introduce the same advertising issues as Yahoo Mail, but it is really difficult to restrict the use of Google+, Google’s social media platform, from within the Gmail client. Beyond the challenges specific to individual providers, any email account owned by a commercial provider inherently creates the risk of your child corresponding with a stranger without your knowledge.
I get it. All of that together sounds a bit frightening. So what’s a parent to do? Well, you can actually get ahead of the potential dangers by creating email accounts for your children on your own domain.
Where Should I Get Email Accounts for My Kids?
The best email solution I’ve found for children is an account on a custom domain owned by a parent. It provides a website for your children to view their email ad-free online and gives you administrative control of all accounts, should you need it.
Because of the ages of our children, we currently do not allow secret passwords on anything. They are allowed to keep passcodes and passwords hidden from their siblings, but not from me and Jeff. I’m not sure when/if that will change, but for now that’s the law of the land. With a custom domain, we can login and view passwords on all of their email accounts. Miss Maya, our current tweenager,
hasn’t tried yet to would never change her password in hopes of locking us out, but should she ever decide to, we can still get in through administrative controls.
A side note here, setting up accounts early really helps set the precedent for family guidelines with online activity. As I said earlier, my kids understand that Jeff and I have full access to their email accounts, texts and devices. From the very beginning, they never had any expectation of privacy. This standard has helped tremendously as new devices, websites or apps have come into play. Our kids automatically know that they will be turning over login details or they won’t be allowed access.
Additional Benefits of Owning Your Own Domain
Once you have your own domain, you can create as many email addresses as you want. You can create one for retail signups, so ads don’t get mixed in with your email, or even a separate one for school. I am DEFINITELY doing that next year. I have 5 teachers I receive correspondence from, sometimes several times a day. That leads to a ton of emails I have to sift through when I need to find a deadline or other piece of important information. I plan to have school@… to keep everything tidy in one place. Too bad I thought of that with only one month of school left.
In case technology isn’t your thing, I wrote a post with instructions on how to create a custom domain email accounts.
Check Out These Other Computer and Internet Safety Posts:
The Parenting Tech Toolbox Series – Everything you need to manage technology in your family
Child Safe Settings for The iPhone, iPod & iPad
Online Safety Tips For Kids
How To Make Google Kid Friendly
Why We MUST Protect Our Children From Porn