If not with older adults then certainly with young people, right?
Well, not exactly. Although webmail usage among teens and young adults is dropping, the shift of that usage is actually moving towards mobile email among those same groups.
Practically speaking, I see young people much more engaged in text messaging than I do email. But can you deny the necessity of email from a business perspective?
Chances are that email is here to stay for quite some time…even if the medium for consumption changes along the way.
With this assumption in mind, what do we do as dads to teach our kids about email…in a safe way?
This is something that I was considering recently.
My oldest, whose exposure to technology started early, wanted a way to flex her new “spelling muscles”. I guess I could have had her go old-school and actually write letters to people, but what kind of self-respecting technologist would do that?
In Comes KidsEmail.org
Right around the time that I was considering a safe Gmail alternative, I received an email from a representative of KidsEmail.org looking for a review of their service.
As the name insinuates, the company presents themselves as a kid-friendly service that provides a safe alternative to more traditional email providers.
At $4.95 per month (month-to-month) or at a special price of $38.95 for 13 months (a current deal their offering), you get 4 accounts or 6 accounts respectively.
But why pay for an email service? Why not just open a free Gmail account like the rest of the free world?
This is where KidsEmail.org’s safety features come in to play…and where they begin to set themselves apart.
As a dad, my concern with email stems from my intent to protect my kids, while still trying to equip them with a valuable tool.
I have to prepare for predators, viruses, phishing emails, mischievous little boys, and probably a few other things I haven’t considered.
That’s why the feature lineup of the email service was so interesting to me. With flexibility and complete control, I could lock down my daughter’s email entirely, or free up certain controls as she becomes more responsible.
Because my daughter is young, and because I was using the service as more of an educational tool, I enabled her email with a pretty strict lock-down. For instance, the only email that she can send and receive are to a pre-built contact list that I created. And even when she receives an email from from that list, I still receive a copy.
But what if she gets an email from a non-approved sender…or if she tries to send an email to a non-approved recipient? In that case, I get an email of the “unauthorized” attempt and can either approve or deny it.
Having that amount of control over the service allowed me to teach my daughter the basics without worrying too much about the downside. And, if you’re a parent that has had a child misuse their email account…KidsEmail.org can be useful as a prescription to earn back your trust.
Plus, with the email trend that was cited earlier, the service can be used from a webmail portal and from free apps built for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
What if you’ve got older kids? What teenager is going to want to use an email with a domain of KidsEmail.org? No problem. You can change the domain to Kmail.org so that the service is more age appropriate.
For more features, you can take a look “Here” and see the full scope of what they offer.
As with any service there are a few things that could be improved.
For instance, the iOS app would randomly disable the ability to “Reply” to an email. However, with a quick ticket submission, the team at KidsEmail promptly reported the hiccup to their engineers for review. So far, it hasn’t happend again.
Also, the current version of the app does not allow for mobile admin access to your child’s email settings. So, if you want to change something you have to login through the web portal via your browser. Although I never actually needed to do this myself, I could see that being of use for quick changes while you’re on the go.
As with the bug report, the staff at KidsEmail were very interested in receiving feedback…and they actually encourage it openly on the website.
It’s Worth it…
Would I recommend it? The simply answer is yes.
Although there is a menial monthly cost for the service, you get a provider with tight security that is easily altered, and very flexible.
Beyond the teaching I was able to do, I also saw the service as a fantastic way for your kids to demonstrate their responsibility.
As their maturity increases, so do their email freedoms.
How About You?
Have you had some experience with teaching your kids about email?
What tools have you used?
Have you faced any pitfalls that you didn’t expect…or that you weren’t prepared for?
Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!