At younger and younger ages children want it all. Older children see that their parents have cell phones and want one for themselves. Children see that parents use credit cards to get what they need and assume that the same should be true for them. Rarely does it occur to a child that there are corresponding bills to pay and jobs that must be worked in order to provide those kinds of luxuries for themselves.
One of the greatest pressures that children are putting on their parents these days is for technological gadgets and Internet privileges. Children communicate with each other much differently than you or I did when we were kids. Email is practically a necessity if some kids are to stay informed and up-to-date on the newest gossip or weekend activities. All parents will eventually have to make a decision regarding when they feel that their child is ready to have an email account of their own.
Although there is no obvious age where a child should be given an email account, there are some suggestions for the most appropriate period of time when most parents feel like it is time to allow the child to have email privileges. Obviously a child needs to be old enough to understand that there will be rules regarding computer, Internet, and email use. Such rules would include actions and consequences. For example, in order to keep an email account, the child must agree to maintain a certain grade average at school. If the child does not hold up his end of the bargain, the privilege of email is taken away. Judgment and accountability is also important in terms of remaining safe while using email. Chances are that your child will eventually come across spam or other emails that contain objectionable material or material that makes your child feel uncomfortable. If your child has not shown an ability of knowing what to do or how to handle this situation appropriately, they may not be old enough to be left unsupervised while using email.
When you first decide that it may be the right time to allow your child to have emailing privileges, you may want to keep a really close watch on your child. Have your child agree as a term of their email use that you as a parent can monitor their messages at any time to make sure that your child is not getting involved with anything that would be considered objectionable. Make sure to talk to your child about why it is important for you to monitor his activity and that it is not an invasion of their privacy, it is a security measure.
As your child gets older, hopefully they will prove their responsible use of email and can therefore gain more trust from parents that he or she is doing as they should. Parents will always have a difficult time letting go and allowing their children to learn for themselves. If you as a parent are looking for more guidance regarding whether or not your child is old enough for an email account it may be helpful to point out that the age of thirteen is the cut-off for the Children’s Privacy Protection Act. This suggests that according to the government, after the age of thirteen, kids are getting old enough to understand what information they should, and should not share with others as well as what types of communication make them feel uneasy or unsafe.
Let your children know that they are always welcome to come to you and your partner if they ever feel uncomfortable about a message that they receive or about anything that they may have been exposed to online.