Not all email providers are created equally. There are definitely some email providers that you do not want your elementary school age children to be involved with. What email provider you choose for your child depends largely on who it is that is sponsoring the site and services. While some sites may not necessarily have a bad reputation, it is who they allow to advertise on their site and who is granted rights to user information that you should be concerned about.
When a child is still of elementary school age, they need more restrictions and guidelines when it comes to the type of email that they should be granted access to. When a child is still relatively young, they have not yet developed the skills of judgment that are often needed to fend for one’s self in cyber space. A young child is still very much impressionable and might not know that something objectionable that they are seeing is in fact inappropriate. Therefore, as parents we have the responsibility to take the time while a child is still of elementary school age, to educate them.
Parents need to monitor what it is that their younger children are doing when online and what exactly they are using their email account for. Many times the best email provider for elementary school children is the email provider and account name that they share with their parents. When this is the case, parents have complete access to their children’s account and can filter their messages as they see fit. When a child is first given email rights in elementary school, they will need to know that their parents will be there watching and making sure that the child is capable of making responsible decisions on their own.
There are several options for email providers that allow you as the parent to set up an account for your child on your computer. Encourage your child to share their new email address with relatives or close friends only. Choose an email package, such as Outlook, that downloads your messages to your machine which allows you to download the messages meant for your child in advance so that you can delete inappropriate content.
Another good email provider that is appropriate for elementary school children is one that is sponsored by the school or district that your child attends. Such email accounts are strictly guarded against spam and may even contain moderators that monitor email messages to ensure that hurtful or harmful messages are not being sent from one student to another. Teachers are typically the ones who determine who is and who is not allowed to have access to the group of children on the email account. This means that strangers or even other children that are not in the same class as your child will likely be denied access to communicating with them through their email account. Not all school have this service available so feel free to contact your child’s school or district to see if this is a possibility.
For children just beginning to learn how to use the internet and an email account, it is probably best that they not be given an email address that is sponsored by anyone who will allow advertisers to solicit to email account holders. If this type of email account is the only option, parents are encouraged to take an active role on monitoring their child’s email. Regardless of the provider that you chose, parents need to be teaching their young and impressionable children everything that they feel will be necessary for them to know in order to make good and responsible decisions regarding email and internet use as they get older and are given more freedoms.