Is Your Kid Ready for Email?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Theresa Payton

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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:

Eight 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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Post Rating I Like this!
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Terry Perkins Great article! Informative information to ponder.
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Lance Miller This comment was posted on LinkedIn and the author gave permission to post here. I thought it would add value:

Here is a great tool to help parents navigate talkng about online risks with their kids. The Federal Trade Commission has created a Guide called "Chatting with Kids about Being Online". It covers a number of devices. You can view it online or order free copies from the FTC. The last page of the Guide will tell you how to bulk order them. That PDF link is:

http://www.onguardonline.gov/pdf/tec04.pdf
Posted by Karen L. Lewis
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Jason Hong MySecureCyberspace is a hub that contains a lot of good material to help parents with kids and cyberspace. It has material on cyberbullying, cell phones, email, social networking, etc. It's being maintained by Carnegie Mellon University (Note: I'm a faculty in computer science at CMU).
http://www.mysecurecyberspace.com/

My colleagues and I have also developed a micro game called Anti-Phishing Phil to teach people how not to fall for online phishing scams. We've commercialized it, and you can try a one-round version for free. The game is intended for people who don't know a lot about computers.
http://wombatsecurity.com/antiphishingphil
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Theresa Payton Terry, Thanks for the feedback!

Lance & Karen, Great info from the FTC and thanks for sharing.

Jason, I love anti phishing Phil & have shared it with family & friends.
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