E-mail is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. Even young children want to their own e-mail addresses to stay connected with schoolmates and family members. The problem is that children do not fully understand the dangers lurking on the Internet. There are obscene spam messages and predators to be cautious of. Parents can set up e-mail addresses for their children but must monitor e-mail usage to keep their kids protected.
Choose which service you want to use. AOL has an e-mail program for children called KOL. You can choose to set up an account for a kid, teen, or mature teen. You can also choose an account like ZooBuh, which sends all of your child's e-mails directly to you first--you must give your approval for the email to be delivered to your child. Of course, you can always stick with your normal e-mail accounts, such as Gmail, but they aren't as good at protecting your children.
Help your child come up with a user name for his e-mail address. The user name should not contain any part of the child's real name or any other personal information such as a birth date. For example, email@example.com is safer than firstname.lastname@example.org.
Create a password. This should be something that both you and your child will remember. Make sure your child knows that you will have access to the account and that this is for his or her own safety. You may want to write down the email address and password in a safe place.
Go to the options menu and set up your child's e-mail account to automatically delete spam. Several companies have this feature, including Hotmail. This will prevent your child from seeing any inappropriate spam messages that get through.
Set up a filter if your service does not allow you to automatically delete spam messages. You can type inappropriate words into your filter; your service will block any incoming messages that contain those words.
You should also consider setting up parental control software on the computers that your children use. This will stop them from viewing websites with adult content.
Children may try to tell you that you are invading their privacy by keeping an eye on their e-mail activity. Do not let that deter you from keeping your children safe. In this case, safety is more important than privacy.