Communication has become a very important part of the world we live in. There is a constant need to know what is going on where at all times so that we can be as efficient as possible. This need to stay connected as adults is also something that is very important for children as well. Connectivity is nearly essential for the lifestyle of the modern child and teenager. Here are some tips that will help you make a decision about what age is appropriate before you allow them to use e-mail for social networking.
The most logical answer to the question about appropriate ages for social networking through e-mail is “it depends”. Every child has different needs and different factors that will influence their ability and good judgment to use email communication methods wisely. Here are some things they should understand before you allow them to do any social networking online, whether it is through email, chat, or another form.
They should understand the concept of personal time and space. It is important to do these types of things when appropriate and only with the right people present. Some things are more important than others are. It is more important to get homework done and to spend time with family before doing social networking. They need to understand the concept of priorities and that they can’t spend every moment at home on the computer interacting with people online. They also need to understand that some people who use services like these have ulterior motives. They need to understand that their communication should really only be with people that they already know. They shouldn’t be trying to make new friends online and definitely not trying to meet these people physically. It is also essential that they understand what type of information should never be given out online to any other person. Teach them to avoid mentioning anything that will give others information about where they live, go to school, or hang out with friends.
They need to understand what constitutes inappropriate content or behavior online and know that it should be avoided and what the consequences are if there are infractions of the rules governing these actions. There are certain things that should never be said or done online and that are inappropriate for people of any age. They need to know that they should never open e-mails addressed to them that have some type of attachment to download. They should never make threats or respond to threats made to them online by anyone. They should also be comfortable enough with communicating with you so that they will come to you if there is a problem or a situation that makes them uncomfortable.
Children also need to understand the concept of trust while making good judgment calls. They should be able to communicate with their friends and trust that the things they say are relatively safe. But they also need to know how to say no when a limit has been reached. This is a feeling that is learned by experiencing it. Your help may be needed to help them learn this concept.
Different children will arrive at these basic understandings at different ages depending on how much exposure they have had to the Internet and communication in general. It is essential to use good judgment as a parent so that your child can be confident in your trust of them but also your ability to be strong and help them when they are in need. The appropriate age for using email networking will be different for each and every child and your best judgment as a parent will be required to give them the green light when they express a desire and when you think they are ready.